Contact the Core Division
Eight centuries ago the Chinese philosopher Zhu Xi proposed that, "If one makes no progress in his study, it is simply because he lacks courage." I would argue that his words are just as valid today. Further, I believe that one of the most important goals of any professor should be to inspire that courage in our students — and to do that we need to model that courage ourselves. We have to leave our comfortable world behind (whether it is physical or intellectual), and explore a much larger, complicated and sometimes scary one.
So, what better meaningful object could I pick than my one possession that I would enter a burning building to rescue — the walking stick that my grandfather made me. It reminds me of home and family, certainly, but it also represents the desire to travel further afield. He made it for me so that I could hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail with my father, and it was one of my earliest challenges. Whether I am tramping around San'a or Zanzibar or Kasgar — or tackling the intricacies of psychology or neuroscience or Persian poetry — I've always welcomed the challenge, and happily shared the journey with my students.