Trinity’s academic calendar is divided into three terms, the anatomy of my year in Dublin has followed the rhythm from Michelmas to now Hilary, and is approaching a finish with Trinity. It feels like some things are aligning now, in Hilary term, which runs from early January to late March to bring in Spring, and is named after the Feast of St. Hiilary, or the Epiphany. And whether etymological or semantic – with St. Hilarius of Poitiers, a bishop and theologian who arduously defended the divinity of the Trinity at times of heresy, or hilary from the Latin hilarius meaning “cheerful” and traces back all the way to the Greek ἵλαος (hilaos), “propitious, gracious.” And nothing could describe the past couple of months in Ireland more, navigating the home that Trinity has created for me, so far away from home(s).
On February 6th a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck my hometown Aleppo, and Southeast Turkey. The images of destruction permeated my notifications, of a city I once knew, people that have struggled through years of war, economic crisis, and global marginalization, of a city which continues to hold in its wings the people who have stayed through it all, and those who have carried her name with them in new homes around the globe. No number of times that you have to do this routine ever really prepares you for how the news cycles impact the way you navigate the homes you create, the solace you seek, the nostalgia you suppress, the resilience you construct, the guilt you feel, the incongruence you process. The safety check-ins flood the feed, your childhood friends marked safe, others mourning loss, awaiting news from neighbors, questioning how the curse can persist.
It was not the first time I had learned how grief can coexist with a determination in a context so removed from where you once were rooted. I look outside and see the splintering green grass pave the base of Trinity’s campanile and I remember that it is now the first weeks of spring and how there can be more ways to be grateful for the cold Irish sun. I think of all of the ways I can continue to make the most of my time at Trinity as my return to Medical School nears – how to imagine a future where I can incorporate the praxis of global health in my career. This term, we’re exploring processes of global collaborations for healthcare interventions, and I still use assignments to delve into topics I am interested in, the global discrepancy in dementia diagnoses, the intersection of politics and international aid, the optimization of qualitative research for global interventions. I attended a Doctors without Borders conference at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, and learned of the efforts in critical care interventions in regions of crisis globally, the universality and urgency of ethical and collaborative medical work. At an Ireland For All solidarity march, I walked along the Liffey as Dubliners countered a growing xenophobic sentiment in Ireland.
To exist across a hyphen is to constantly balance the nostalgia with the hope, and to seek meaning in the everyday, drive a connection with those around you, and a desire to move forward. Tomorrow is Saint Patrick’s day, Dubliners will gather, joined by enthusiasts for the joy that Dublin enables from all over the globe, and the parade will come knocking on Trinity’s front gates, and we will gather, to celebrate all of the paths we took to get here, and all of the places we will go after.
“Because the sunset, like survival, exists only on the verge of its own disappearing. To be gorgeous, you must first be seen, but to be seen allows you to be hunted.”
― Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous