Environmental Studies and Renewable Energy & Ecological Design student Naing Ye Aung ’19 produced a book titled The Portrait of Resilience comprised of sixty-five extraordinary individual portraits of GMC students, faculty, and staff celebrating the human struggles they encountered, the wisdom they gained, and the confidence they built on the frontline of a contemporary battle. Published books are available on Amazon and at the Griswold Library and an exhibit of Naing’s work will be on display in GMC’s Feick Arts Center in Spring 2019.
Following are three inspiring stories from the collection.
“My Hijab Is My Crown.” – Author, Anonymous
I was born and raised into Islam. Islam means peace. To me, Islam is a way of life because it guides me through every struggle I face in this earth. Growing up I have always valued my religion, and try to do my obligations as a Muslim girl. I remember one day looking into the mirror, and telling myself that I should start wearing my hijab and represent my religion in a positive way.
During the summer before I started my freshman year in college, I would daydream about what my life in college would be. Would people respect my religion? Would they seek knowledge? Or will they focus on the negative side of the media? These questions were raised because in this generation the media and television is a very powerful source. Therefore if there’s only a negative side of the religion being portrayed, then people’s perception of Islam might not be positive. My first week at Green Mountain College came faster than I realized. During the first week, I notice that I was the only hijab wearing Muslim girl on campus, which really surprised me and when I went outside of Poultney I notice that when people looked at me their attentions were focused on my hijab. The next day I asked myself, “should I take of my hijab?, and what do people think when they look at me?” I sat down watched the beautiful mountains behind the Green Mountain college soccer field as the sunset.
The sunset distracted me from the question I asked myself and brought warmed to my skin. I then reminded myself that my religion preaches peace and love, and the hijab on my head is me representing what Islam stands for. This is who I am and I will represent Islam and show that the religion does not preach any harm. I am glad to say that I met amazing friends at Green Mountain College that were open-minded and willing to get to know more about Muslim people rather than what the media have shown them. This is my religion and my identity, I will proudly wear my hijab and walk anywhere without feeling ashamed, and my hijab is my crown.
#48 “Life is Predicated on Mindset” – Author, Anonymous
Being trapped in a mind state of not being sure what is going to happen next is frightening. Being stabbed with the thought of regret, plunged into the pool of fear, and emerged in the sense of doubt all play a part of uncertainty of the future.
Living my life as if the world will end is the best thing that I can do, but the fact that it could end As a positive or a negative also factors in. When your friends become your daughters. When your family members don’t shroud you with love and motivation like you expect it. The one you once turn to love for somebody else. Your dreams and goals aren’t an easy process like you thought and you’re not sure if you’ll make it?
At all of these moments you feel a tearing and rift in your heart and the roads become a dead end, where do you turn???? Disappointment can be a killer and very disheartening and can kill the biggest of beast of, or massive minds of millions.
BUT in these moments, you have 2 Options DWELL OR PURSUE BETTER Omar khayyám says “Your hand can seize today, but not tomorrow; and thoughts of your tomorrow are nothing but desire. Don’t waste this breath, if your heart isn’t crazy, since “the rest of your life” won’t last forever.”
Pursue allows you to take action! Things happened in my past that tore me down and roads closed, but I’ll continue my journey on a road ill pave my own road to happiness. Dark days come but I will pursue only the positive points of my life and create new great memories and great situations an in return sunny days will come. When will you realize that those bad situations that happened aren’t roadblocks but building blocks. Those stab wounds of disappointments will become stories that shaped you, and the melting of pressure and criticizing will mold you.
A Plant can’t grow into its full potential in the shade, but only in the Light of opportunities!
#60 “Invest in Your Dreams. Grind Now, Shine Later!” – Author, Anonymous
The discovery of Self, thus Purpose, is the foundation of not just leadership but also, greatness. My parents had a lot of problems in her life, so I grew up in boarding school. It was a difficult childhood not to have that parent-child relationship and your parents as your idols … Everything that I’ve accomplished came from the kindness of others. My parents were not always there like other parents. Basically raised my siblings and up to now, the relationship gets stronger as each day goes by. Being underrated, misinterpreted, misplaced, misunderstood, always second guessed and underestimated was my childhood and primary school life. I always would not show the potential I had hidden in me as I was scared I would not live up to other people’s expectations of me.
I realized I had to stop and focus on me, build me first then worry about the rest later. “You are going to be happy”, said life, “but first I have to make you strong!” My life goals and dreams kept me going. “Work while they sleep, Learn while they play and Save while they spent,” was what I always told myself to motivate me into working harder than the rest. I always advised my siblings to allow the past to make them better and not bitter because I had always understood that aiming to be better than yesterday keeps the dream alive. Coming here was one step forward to fulfilling my dream. It was difficult, I almost gave up. Whilst in the midst of giving up, I remembered why I had held on for so long in the first place. It was to change history and not to repeat it. I had always wanted to invest in my dreams. It’s not over until it’s over. For me it’s just the beginning. The best is yet to come. “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants” – Sir Isaac Newton. Thanks to Green Mountain College for being one of the giants and seeing the potential in me, believing in me and also believing in my vision and dreams, giving me this opportunity to pursue medicine. I have always promised myself this and today I still do: To be braver than I believe, stronger than I seem and smarter than I think I am because the only competition I will ever have is myself. I am an engine of inspiration and change in society through the amazing gift of oratory, writing, and research, among others. Fearless, Determined and Courageous are the words that best describe why I have always refused to be defined by the status quo.