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Living & Learning / More of a reminder for the present than a clue for the future

Courtesy of An Kitamura

An Kitamura, front row right, with friends

By An Kitamura (Carleton College) / Special To The Japan News Fossils, dinosaurs, and ancient marine invertebrates. What more could a child wish for? Or in this case, a college student? I can say with absolute certainty that I would take the Paleobiology course over and over again if I could. However, what am I supposed to do with this admiration for paleontology? I still have no clue.

I can already hear my parents grumbling about how I should take more practical courses that would enable me to live a decent life after graduation. There were times when I even questioned myself. Isn’t it just a child’s dream to hear about the marvels of the world? What good would learning how to identify fossils do for my future?

The enthusiasm in my professor’s voice and the commotion of my classmates as we prepared for our fossil field trip, however, was loud enough to silence the doubtful voices in my head. The grin that tugged on my face when I found my first fossil and the earnestness with which I immersed myself in identifying the fossils my classmates and I found came to mean much more than wisdom or knowledge or whatever people say you learn at college. They turned into reminders of why I am here at Carleton.

I thought that college is just a brief stop in life’s pathway — that college is just a means to acquire skills and information required in future careers. Now, don’t get me wrong. I still believe it is, but why exactly am I here?

Here is my answer, or more precisely, my reminder. To me, college is a place to learn. Why and what we learn is a different story for each of us to tell. However, learning to me is not just a tool, but a source of enjoyment. I wanted more than just amassing knowledge from lectures and textbooks. I wanted to take pleasure in the process of gathering each piece of information and furthering my understanding.

This is why I am here in southern Minnesota with a geology professor teaching Paleobiology who always asks the students if we are ready to “rock and roll” at the beginning of class. I am here because I learn for the joy of learning.

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Carleton College

Founded in 1866 and situated in Northfield, Minnesota, the private institution is regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the United States. No-table alumni include former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Michael Armacost.Speech

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