Change is jarring. It remakes our landscape and reroutes our paths, disrupting familiar routines and expectations. It challenges us to relinquish control, to trust in the unknown, to explore the unmapped. This is what a Knight Fellowship at Stanford provides — opportunities for change.
As journalists, we are nimble, able to respond to breaking news. Multi-tasking seems a way of life. So to break away from that kind of momentum and become a Knight Fellow means to transition in a way that can feel unnatural. Slow down? Take time to think about me? Take classes and read? Really?
Really. While the Fellowship expects you to come with a project in mind, it mostly expects you to enjoy the academic year in a way that is meaningful to you. In my case, I focused on new and interesting classes, such as Art History and Archaeology, and on subjects I am passionate about, such as education. I sampled classes in the Graduate School of Business (“How to Change When Change is Hard”) and in Mechanical Engineering (“Future of the Automobile”). I sat in on a class session of “American Foreign Policy” taught by Condoleezza Rice. I heard Gen. Stanley McChrystal speak about leadership, and activist Grace Lee Boggs discuss the need for America to reimagine itself.
As Stanford recognized the 40th anniversary of Ms. Magazine, I watched a documentary on Gloria Steinem, enjoyed a discussion on feminist humor and heard a panel of activists talk about their dedication to women’s rights. In between classes and events, I regularly walked the great corridors of the Main Quad, drank the spicy chai lattes at Coupa Café, meditated in Memorial Church and plopped down in a comfy chair at the Stanford Bookstore to read. Yes, it’s that good.
In fact, it’s better because of the other Fellows, who arrive from around the country and around the globe. The kinship that forms rather quickly becomes the backbone of the Fellowship. The richness of experiences and range of personalities is exciting and invigorating. It’s similar to a great travel experience — all while on the Stanford campus and surroundings. (Did I mention that we eat well, too?) This new daily life among Fellows and their families generates its own new momentum in which change is no longer jarring but welcome. Together, we are exploring possibilities, no longer held back by assumed boundaries. We support each other and challenge each other; the dynamic grows and changes. We are students, we are directors of our projects, we are journalists, and we are charting our futures. Yes, it’s that good.