The October edition of our blog is brought to you by De-Lawrence Lamptey, a doctoral student in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy. His research focuses on improving access to healthcare for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Ghana. De-Lawrence’s piece beautifully captures the power and strength provided through the creation of community. Keep reading to hear De-Lawrence’s story of how he formed, nurtured and grew his own community at Queen’s University.
As an international student, I left my home country and came to Queen’s with mixed feelings. I felt super excited about the opportunity to improve myself and to serve the world in one of the world’s finest universities. At the same time, leaving loved ones behind and moving to an unfamiliar place thousands of miles away from my home, where I did not know anyone (except one or two kind strangers) was a bit daunting. A couple of weeks before I flew in I connected with a Queen’s University staff member willing to welcome me not only into the Queen’s community but also into her home, and this was a big relief. Eventually, I became an adopted family member of this Queen’s staff member. How did I get connected to this person? My academic supervisor connected me to this person.
Although I am a student with a disability, I do not feel different because I believe that everybody has something to overcome in order to forge ahead in life – be it a disability, a medical illness, a broken family, poverty, racial discrimination or what have you. Sometimes, we find great support to overcome whatever might be in our way to keep us going ahead in life. Other times too, life just leaves us on our own to figure it all out. That is just the way life is! Just because the challenges of life can be hard should never be an excuse for one to give up. I guess the good news is that, with or without support, someway somehow, we have all survived experiences in life we never thought we could. This alone ought to inspire us to hope for the best and to not give up in the face of challenges.
Queen’s has supported and challenged me to develop my potential to its fullest. As an international student and a student with a disability, I have received phenomenal support from the Queen’s University International Center, Disability Services, the School of Graduate Studies, and the School of Rehabilitation Therapy, as well as Queen’s staff, faculty and students. Several members of the Queen’s community have been generous enough to share their personal experiences and stories with me to help set me up for success. I have also had welcoming opportunities to share my cultural background with the Queen’s community through various seminars and presentations, and through music at the jamming sessions of the Queen’s Music Club.
A unique part of my Queen’s experience has been the challenges that Queen’s has thrown at me as a way of nurturing an overcoming spirit in me and toughening me up to confront the challenges of life to better serve the world with my fullest potential. Admittedly, some of these challenges were not fun at all to deal with but knowing that the Queen’s community was there for me, especially my close friends and the Queen’s staff member who adopted me, kept me going. Come to think of it, I can testify that the times in my Queen’s experience I found myself happiest are often times I engaged in fun activities. However, the times that grew my potential and character most are often the challenging times when I had to overcome something as part of my learning experience.
Let me conclude with three principles that have been reinforced in me during my time at Queen’s University:
- Life is not about who has the best abilities but, it is about granting everyone the opportunity to serve the world to the fullest.
- Brave men and woman are not brave because they are immune to fear but because they count the noble tasks they want to perform greater than the fear boiling inside of them. They know it will not be all the time they will be successful in accomplishing their particular noble tasks, yet they never cease striving to perform at their best to enrich society and make the world a better place for all.
- It is not possible to win all things in life all the time, but it is possible to have a winning spirit all the time and when faced with a challenge, be determined not to allow it to take your spirit from you.