And That Was the Year That Was…

This year has been, overall, a blast. Hard work? Yes. A bit of a culture shock? Yes. A financially dubious move when the economy is shaky? Maybe. Will I look back in ten years and regret having been here? Never (but then it wasn’t me who had to sit through Finance).

I’ve chosen a few highlights (and lowlights) to talk about. They are, by necessity, abridged but they are meant as a potted summary of the last nine months.

Foundations: How much of the future was shaped in these short weeks? People were thrown together, assessed, “Myer-Briggs”-ed, boxed and reallocated to form the class sections that will exist forever. FOREVER. FOREVER. When you are the future President of the United States you will still be in Section G. You might as well just bite the bullet and go get a tattoo instead of a section t-shirt. So do not mourn the fact that you won’t be with your section in classes next year. You are in fact going to be with them for the rest of your life. If you’d known that, maybe you would have signed a pre-nup.

Pricilla Ball: Where the boys dress like girls and the girls dress like….well, let’s just call them “ladies of negotiable affection.” Remember how we all went to the ball to blow off steam after the “hard” work of foundations and the shock of the Harvard caseload. Those were the days. Back then the steam was enough to power a kettle, now the head of steam is enough to satisfy California’s energy requirements.

The case study method: As I gaze out the window slurping my double shot, decaf, soy latte I ponder the case study method. It is toted as the teaching method of the millennium. But explain to me please, how can one explore the creation, manifestation and intricacies of the European Union in one hour and twenty minutes?

When The Harbus lost its editor: Nick resigned over the now infamous line “incompetent morons”. “Moron-gate” even got coverage on CNN. And I still find myself waking at night thinking “surely for that term to be insulting it would have had to been “competent morons.”

Student elections: Many people threw their hats into the ring to be nominated for various elected positions in clubs and associations. Many did not succeed. Some did succeed and can now happily put an added note onto their resume. I am in the latter group. Not so much through design but more because I sneezed at a very inopportune moment during the nomination process. People assumed my violent flailing of limbs was in fact enthusiasm. My CV now has the following added note:
“Co-president of a subgroup of a sub-committee of the Harvard Business School Partners’ Club.”

I am trying not to let the power go to my head.

Section auctions: And then there was the lunacy of the section auctions.

Lesson to be learned: mixing alcohol with an open wallet will lead to the embarrassing realization that you paid $100 for a second hand “Led Zeppelin” t-shirt worn by your second-mate’s girlfriend’s cat. In fact it is appropriate at this stage to thank Marin for his contribution to the Section C auctions. Marin decided he wanted an article about himself written in The Harbus. I should mention that Marin is very handsome in a James Bond sort of way, extremely wealthy and was lined up for a summer internship as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve until Greenspan put his hand up for another round.

When saying goodbye is hard to do: There are so many second years that I’m going to miss. Goodbye Soames, Loreto, Lucy, John… I’ll miss you next year. It is funny to think that whatever institutional knowledge I have gleaned from you will be all that I have to offer the next batch of incumbents. Somehow I thought I’d be in the first year batch for much longer. What is even harder is knowing that this time next year it’ll be us leaving. Isn’t it funny that when you’re enjoying yourself time passes so very fast? I am reminded of an old saying: Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

Brief tenure: There is a pigeon on our balcony. She has laid an egg. In my window box. She looks very comfortable and at ease with her choice of hatchery. And I realized that she has probably laid an egg on the same balcony for a number of years and will probably lay them there for many more. This pigeon has more claim to tenure at Harvard than I do. How fickle.

Thank you all for being so much fun this year. Be safe in the coming months.
Gretel Silyn Roberts

BSc (Hons), PhD (Microbiology), Partner NC (soon to be OC), Co-president of a subgroup of a sub-committee of the Harvard Business School Partners’ Club

June 2, 2003
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