Jun 14, 2010

The Season of Separation

June is a bittersweet season for most undergraduates - end-of terms, a 3-month summer holiday for most, and convocation for seniors. For most 4 years of university education may seem surreal. We may complain 4 years is quite long - long enough to have memories and sentimental reminiscence, but when compared to med. school of 7 years I think no matter how detached one is you will still slow down and look back.

We are a small community of students in a small school situated away from big cities. While the school provides conducive environment for studies, many other co-curricular activities we have to fend for ourselves - you might be jealous knowing we have basketball, baseball, badminton, table tennis, volleyball, swimming teams all specially dedicated for medical students (which population accounts up to only 360 people). We have a rural medical service team, Miharasi, all run by medical students. We have an annual Medcamp receiving up to 1200 high school students, organized and executed by medical students. And we publish a yearly magazine written and published by medical students. While we may not ace others in terms of research grants or academic prowress, we certainly are up there in terms of sports (well, maybe not after all) and activities.
How we'd manage to achieve this in less than 20 years of history? I finally got my answer tonight, attending the farewell of MED 92 (We're MED 95, this means it'll be our turn 3 years later...). As PowerPoint slides kept flashing through I saw sacrifice - sacrifice of time, effort, summer holidays, winter holidays, girlfriends, boyfriends.
I'd ask any of my seniors why are they willing to sacrifice so much? They could spend an entire winter holiday lounging at home, working for cash; but instead they jumped into a rural primary school, and taught schoolchildren how to brush their teeth and wash their hair. They could spend the summer backpacking across Europe; but they trained hard in sports - to claim a name in Medcup - an annual national sporting meet. They could spend an idle weekend with someone they fancy, but they freed up time to train juniors, take them out, pay for our dinners. It's a form of sacrifice all along - a sacrifice I could only dream of giving.
They asked for nothing much in return. Perhaps just seeing their juniors sharing the same passion as themselves - having fun while being so far away studying something so foreign. They sacrificed their time to make our lives more vivid with activities, memorable with sweat, laughter and people we cared for. It's an unofficial brotherhood.
And looking back at what my university life was the past 4 years - I achieved very little compared to what our seniors did. Most of the time I step back when responsibility falls in, I see myself and my time so much more important that the greater good and the benefit of others. I still have so much flaws that I promised myself I would correct since sophomore year - but I didn't. I am still the old selfish me, and perhaps worse...
I guess sacrifice is something not so easily learned, or else there wouldn't be so many unhappy doctors (or is that just another excuse for our lack of effort?). I could go on all night...