It is hard to believe my fellow 1Ls and I are one-sixth of our way to the finish line of this law school adventure (a little further, if you count the fact that we are already into the second semester). As I think back to the first semester of law school, I realize it did not turn out at all as I imagined it would. I am not talking about the strict, unyielding grading curve (yep, this is a real thing!). Instead, I am referring to the fact that the world is not the same today as it was five months ago when we 1Ls sat in our first lectures. Or maybe the world is the same, but we are all painfully more aware of exactly what we face. It has never been more important to be a lawyer than it is today.
Over my holiday break, while I anxiously waited for my exam grades to post online, I had the opportunity to travel to two distinct locations: the American South (where I am from) and Costa Rica (a beautiful little Central American country I have always wanted to visit). Even as our country is so divided at this point post-election, my visit “home” redeemed my faith in the beautiful yet tense regional diversity of our country. As Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) said in an interview, “I always felt growing up that in the South there was evil but also good—so much good. We are still in the process of becoming. I am very, very hopeful about the American South—I believe that we will lead America to what Dr. King called ‘the beloved community.’ I travel all the time, but when I come back to the South, I see such progress. In a real sense a great deal of the South has been redeemed. People feel freer, more complete, more whole, because of what happened in the movement.”
Congressman Lewis’s statement came to life for me as I traveled to Costa Rica following my visit to Alabama and Mississippi. Costa Rica has no military and plans to completely neutralize its carbon footprint by 2021. Not only did Costa Rica provide a perfect tropical backdrop for adventure and a celebration of finishing a rigorous first semester, but it reinvigorated and reinspired me for the next semester of this trying 1L year.
Right now, the world outside of law school is informing what I do in law school more than I could have ever imagined. The great news about NYU Law is that you do not have to wait until you are finished with school to fight for what you believe in. Several organizations empower students to stand up and fight for our freedoms and values in the current political climate. Also, opportunities such as the International Law and Human Rights Fellowship and NYU Law Abroad allow students to learn and apply concepts of law and justice in a global classroom. As much as I love those lecture halls in Vanderbilt and Furman halls, we as law students must seek opportunities to leave our “bubbles” behind to remain proximate to those issues facing our nation and world.
I am looking forward to the opportunities for me and other NYU Law students to learn more this semester about the international legal landscape. Stay tuned!