I may not know the exact quote or who was the first to say it, but I know it’s about perspective. You cannot see the big picture for yourself, for a problem you want to solve, or some other event if you are bogged down by the details. I am perpetually guilty of staring at trees. I have the hardest time finding perspective, figuratively and literally. I get lost in minute details and I also have about zero sense of direction. I usually rely on my closest confidants to point me towards the big picture or the location I’m trying to get to, but there’s always Google Maps for the latter.
NECO had an event this past Thursday where the OD1s, OD2s, OD3s, faculty, administration, and special visitors gathered within the college to appreciate each other’s new ideas and accomplishments. Students are often absorbed in their assignments and other tasks, which are always pressing throughout the semester. This past Thursday, our “Educating the World Leaders of Tomorrow” event, let the college community appreciate the vision health care projects the OD1s made this spring, the research projects the OD/Masters students are currently working on that will be part of their final dissertations, and the business management plans created by the OD3s for a future practice setting. The day was a successful acknowledgment of the optometry students’ accomplishments made throughout the year and how fortunate we all are to have reached this point in academia.
A guest speaker, Jonathan White, PhD, came to give a talk to the OD2s about community involvement, service learning, and Free the Children, an international charity for which Dr. White is a board member. He spoke of startling accounts of child labor, hunger, poverty, populations without access to clean water, and illiteracy both around the world and in the U.S. Some things we knew or recognized and others we were hearing for the first time. He gave us powerful statistics about us humans living in the wealthiest time in the history of the world, yet still being riddled with poverty and unhappiness—the unhappiness not necessarily occurring in the impoverished areas. I learned from Dr. White that the U.S. is in the bottom one-third in self-ratings of overall happiness compared to all the countries in the world. Dr. White attributed this dissatisfaction within us to the lack of compassion we show to others. He showed us pictures of the Free the Children members donating their time and efforts to less fortunate populations in Ghana, West Africa. The volunteers help bring them clean water, build schools, and show them that “knowledge is power.” The happiness and reward the volunteers both spread and received was undeniable.
Dr. White spoke with both striking passion and jovial approachability. If you took nothing else from Dr. White’s lecture, you at least left with the impression that the forest is so much larger than the trees you have been staring at lately. After some particularly well-taught lectures in optometry school, the class will applaud the professor at the end of lecture. Dr. White received the loudest applause I’ve heard so far in my two years at NECO. I think we were all appreciative of the opportunity to learn from someone so worldly yet extremely modest, who has impacted thousands of people across the globe.