What do political leaders John Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and author Ralph Waldo Emerson have in common? Answer: They are the few of the famous alumni of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
When I was still in my early years of schooling, each time I hear the word Harvard, I immediately associate it with great knowledge and brilliant people. My high school and college teachers never failed to describe the university in superlative words, like it was the most ideal and the only top-notch academic institution in the United States. For those who haven’t seen and been to Harvard, they could only give a rather convincing nod and an enchantment look that goes with full reverence.
The Harvard fascination started when I began to value education. That would date back to the time when medals and academic honors were bestowed in my name in every end of the school year. Imagine a boy who proudly tells everyone about his academic achievements and adds that he desires to be a lawyer, a doctor, or a scientist in the future. In every dream I had before, Harvard has always been at the back of my mind.
However, I came from an average-income family with parents that have to support three kids in college. The Harvard thought, thus, remained a thought that slowly vanished in thin air. As everyone put it, “aiming for Harvard is one crazy idea” — it is hard to enter Harvard.
After finishing my Masters degree in one of the universities in The Netherlands, I promised myself to take my PhD in the USA. If I have the time, I would travel and see Harvard with my own two eyes.
Few years back, I did.
The air was never hot. The sun never shone in full with few clouds hovering the buildings at midday. I entered the brick entrance gate and felt the pieces of a long vanished dream collecting as fast as my mind could bring them in. At the sight of the statue of John Harvard, the founder, just few meters away from me, I realized that the dream was never gone, rather only kept in some shrine of consciousness for easy mnemonic recollection.
I touched Harvard’s foot, as tourists think that doing so brings good luck. I looked at him – this guy sitting with a book on his lap. Frankly, his statue was never impressive yet say his name and it’ll ring a bell anywhere on earth. I took quite a lot of pictures – me standing on his right side, then me on the left, then me sitting at the foot of the statue, me with a couple of Filipinos I met, me with my friend and more.
There were many inquisitive minds around the campus. Like myself, they were awed by the stories they heard about Harvard. They were tourists who traveled to Boston and to see this oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.
As I walked along paths lined with trees that might be as old as the institution, I couldn’t help but smile inside of me for a reverie that seemed unthinkable. Am I walking the same paths traversed by Ralph Waldo Emerson?
What could I have become had I studied here? I pondered in each step I made, and in each photo I took.
I am afraid that I will not be able to fulfill the dream of studying at Harvard University. However, I can still dream of working there. Maybe, in the future.