Bruce Young CC’19 spent Summer 2016 studying on the Columbia Summer Program in Venice, Italy as a 2016 Presidential Global Fellow. The Presidential Global Fellowship program, funded with a seed grant from Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger and established in 2014, covers the program fee associated with a Columbia global program, as well as a stipend to cover round-trip airfare and living expenses, for students to study in a location at or near one of the Columbia Global Centers. Here, Bruce reflects on his experience.
Many of the things that interested me most in Venice (like the experience of confusion, misunderstanding, mazes, ambiguity in translating, the status of things in and of themselves especially with respect to “being a local”) were not really friendly to narrativization, but this episode did help me wonder about what it means to observe and participate in issues pressing in global engagement that do take on the form of narratives. Can we sleep and let the world turn without it affecting us? Should we even want to, like many on the vaporetto, try to quietly ignore the inconveniences of “others?” While observation, even when merely peripheral, is already inevitably a detached form of engagement, I think (even in such instances of willful separation) it is essential and not merely incidental to us as human beings to be affected by others in ways that sometimes escape immediate comprehension. How do we find a way to live with that?
Bruce Young CC’19
2016 Presidential Global Fellow
Columbia Summer Program in Venice, Italy
Learn more about the Presidential Global Fellowship