Back to school and rediscovering self



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As a mature student with a supposedly "distinguished" background, I had advantages. The fellows of St. John's treated me as if I were one of them and extended me rights to dine at high table which I utilized fully. My professors knew my ability and recognized my potential and generally left me alone. I appreciated the freedom to do what I liked and to be recognized as I wanted. During my two years I made one or two incredible friendships that sill remain strong.

Like Daim, Tun Suffian Mohd Hashim and Justice Harun Hashim and James Puthucherry among others, wanted me to take up law at Buckingham (a crash two year course) but Fauzah dissuaded me because she feared I might not be able to cope with the pressure in spite of assurances by the law professor who had talked to me for half an afternoon, that I would make it.

Why did I choose Cambridge? I recall I never did agonise over the choice of university in a way others did because I have always wanted to go there. Once at Cambridge, I fell into a group of post-graduate students who cared about studies and enjoyed pondering the world, its events and our participation in it! They were fun to be with and we enjoyed Cambridge tremendously Cambridge professors are some of the best in the world, intellectually stimulating and politically exhilarating and original.

In retrospect, returning to school turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I thank Mahathir for sending Daim to persuade me to return to school. At Cambridge and Harvard, the experience of education and not the education itself made it a worthy pursuit.

I used to envy friends who went to university. Now I know why going to university is one of the most fulfilling life experiences and I urge fellow Malaysians to attend college no matter how late in life. I sympathize with people who decided to forgo college or did not have the opportunity. They really missed out something special. Return to school and rediscover yourself. It is worthwhile. Take my word for it.

The choices of what to study and at which colleges or universities to do it can seem endless, ponderable, even frightening, but do take a plunge. Pursue your own interests.

I have always wanted a career in journalism and politics and I am in both fields. I know I won't make much money but I enjoy what I am doing.

Diplomacy is no stranger to me because as Razak's confidant I was quite involved in it. Most people fancy that they can write. I am no fool to think that good writing is easy .Writing is no joke: it's hard work, a little talent and a little bit of luck.

Friends say I am not supposed to be where I am; I should be somewhere else. Well, I believe that I am where I am supposed to be. For now at least.

(Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad is our Special Envoy to the United Nations.)

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