Incoming Student Habibullah’s Performance of Poem “Diversity” Highlight of SPP Welcome Reception

Nilofer Khan Habibullah, one-year MAPP student, recited her poem “Diversity” at the SPP Welcome Reception on September 16.

“Having a Saudi Arabian-Indian heritage, going to medical school in the Caribbean and working with HIV-affected populations in Asia, I learned that travel and appreciation for diversity is what truly frees us. To discover and appreciate diversity is a journey,” she said, describing the inspiration for the poem. She performed “Diversity” at SPP for she believes it resonates with students’ journey at CEU.

Read the poem below:

"Next time you start to feel too comfortable sleeping on your old familiar pillow, toss it aside and come on a journey with me on a long meandering road; all I ask is for you to leave judgments at your doorstep; and bring a mind that absorbs like a sponge, eyes that observe like a hawk, and a heart with plenty of room for acceptance of a world that stretches ahead of us so broad;

Our journey will be quite bumpy; bumps of unknown sights, smells and sounds to be uncovered, and yet we will move forward with the wind around us blowing towards a promise of the new, winking at us from the horizon, just waiting to be discovered;

During our journey, we will meet those who will be very different from us, just like no finger of the same hand is of the same length; with those fingers they will point and say “You are too short around here!” others will complain “Why do you say ‘tomatoes’ and not ‘toma’atoes’ [British accent]?” and others will ask “Do you believe in God?” and a lot will be curious “Can you take your headscarf off?” ;

During our journey, you will be forced to trust strangers; and your stomach will churn for you fear that this presents an impending danger;

During our journey, you will begin to experience tastes that never touched your tongue, you smell excitement in the air, your hands will feel touch that never reached your fingertips, your eyes will make you catch your breath as they feast upon a kaleidoscope of sights, and your feet will tread upon a new landscape they are not familiar with;

Twilight is approaching. Your restless young spirit is now running low on its fuel to explore, kinda longing for the comfort of resting your head on your old familiar pillow, and your ears have gotten a bit too tired from hearing too much folklore;

We have been here for a while; on this meandering road. You begin to feel weary & at some point we come to a bend, where you ask for us to pause only so that you can break a wall that towers within us all;

Here, you begin to empty out your backpack: you throw out cracked jars of prejudice, tangled tubes of racism, mangled bottles of superiority, torn pages of discrimination, and broken glass of fear……all the while, you also loosen the strings of your heart to open it up a lil’ bit more to make room for acceptance, just so you can feel near;

During our journey, you begin to see how your soul feels alive when you break your habit of walking slowly, weighed down by the heaviness of opinions & perceptions burdened from your past;

During our journey, you begin to see how diversity is what clips you free from your attachments, so you may move ahead without any lament;

During our journey, you come to appreciate all that makes you ‘you’, because everybody else is taken and there exists only one person like you;

During our journey, you begin to find the courage to get out of your cage of ego and resist the seductive advances of the familiar mistress called comfort to go into the forest, just so you can feel joy a wayfarer can feel after a long lonely journey, when he spots a sliver of light from a window and smoking chimney in a distance from within the woods;

And as you emerge from the woods towards that house, you stumble upon a book that is the world. And you know that this page is not your first, nor will it be your last; you will continue to turn the pages of this book, long even after the dead hand of your past is cast;

But more importantly,

It’s because you continue to follow the wind that keeps you growing; and find comfort as you learn that home is not a place, but a feeling."