Saturday, September 1, 2012

Visiting Cambridge

Back in the early 80s, while I was living in the city of Boston, I got a silly idea. Japan was exporting boatloads of cleverly-designed products to the US, but seemed unable to translate the instruction manuals into intelligible English. So I thought it would be useful to learn the Japanese language, and offer this skill on a contract basis to large companies like Sony, Honda, Casio, Hitachi, Nintendo, etc.

I signed up for a night school course at a nearby university. That university was Harvard – one of the most prestigious schools in the world. I completed one semester with a B average before realizing what a monumental task I had set for myself. Worse, I didn’t know anyone who spoke Japanese, so there was no way to maintain the skill. But it wasn’t a total waste, because when I meet a stuffed shirt who asks where I went to school, I just say “Harvard.” If they ask about my major, I say “International Studies.”

I often wonder if I had completed my studies in Japanese, what would that education be worth to me today - particularly in this economy?

We recently went for a stroll around Harvard Square and I saw lots of familiar sights that have new meaning, now that I live in Florida.

Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just across the Charles River from the city of Boston. There is a lot of history everywhere you look. For example, the city has embedded these brass horseshoes in sidewalks that mark the path of Paul Revere during his famous ride to alert the Colonial militia of the British invasion.


Cambridge is an eclectic city, with more nationalities than any other city in New England. It’s also home to a lot of intellectuals and activists. So there are plenty of interesting or amusing characters everywhere.


Outside the campus, you will find a variety of architectural gems, such as the Harvard Lampoon building:


Also, the gothic masterpiece Sanders Theater. When I see things like this, I realize how we took them for granted in Boston, but you never see such architecture in Florida.


We entered the campus through this gate, marked on the lintel with the words, “Enter To Grow In Wisdom.”


Just inside the gate was a huge bulletin board. During normal class months, it is covered with notices of one sort or another, but they had all been removed. Left behind were tens of thousands of staples, pieces of tape and colorful torn shreds of paper.


We wandered around the campus for a bit, and passed the Philosophy building.

I wonder what a PhD from Harvard is worth in this economy?

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