Merve Mert

Wherever My “State of Terror” Takes Me

The Peace Scholars Program is approaching to an end. This sentence has become a catchphrase among the Peace Scholars; sometimes uttered in a context where we expressed our anxiety about the upcoming deadlines for our academic work, sometimes as a way of expressing our mixed feelings and melancholy about the fact that we are parting soon. For me, personally, I am ready to go home, but at the same time, I want to stay, maybe even more than I want to go. This is a difficult dilemma to be in, but I was finally able to find a solution: I want multiple copies of myself, and be in several places at the same time, so that I could avoid felling as if “[s]ometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living,” as Jonathan Safran Foer puts it. However, I am aware of impossibility of my solution, and that it does not ease the dilemma I am in. Furthermore, realizing that the time passes very fast, and we are almost done led me to reflect on my experience in Norway, as a Peace Scholar, as a dialogue participant at the Nansen Center, as a student at the ISS, as an Ole, as a tourist, and as a young woman who is striving to find out what she is most passionate about. I came to the realization that even if the impossible happened, and 7 more Merves appeared on Earth instantaneously, I would still feel conflicted: not because I cannot live different lives in which I would pursue different goals, but because there are various ways that could take me to the same outcome. I would need at least a couple dozen Merves. Eventually, I gave up, and embraced being in what I once heard a great professor at St Olaf College calls a “state of terror.” “State of terror” is a dynamic, ever-changing situation that prompts one to ask questions, reflect, and take action. It is such a good experience for discovery and learning. I not only became more aware of the broad extent of my academic interests, and numerous possibilities to engage in peace-making, but I also went through a new phase of self-discovery and realization. Before I started the program, it was easy to say I was interested in peace and conflict resolution. Now, I know how broad of an area it is, and that I am more interested in the concept of power, as well as ethnically and religiously framed conflicts. Before I started the program, it was easy to say I love being around people, and I learn greatly from my interactions with them. Now, I know merely wanting to be around people is not enough to establish fruitful relationships, and that I need to be intentional in creating and sharing a value with the people I care about, and put more effort in maintaining those established ties. Obviously, it is not the case that I could not have come to these realizations, had I not been in Norway. Nonetheless, my time in Lillehammer and Oslo as a Peace Scholar and a student at the ISS, attending seminars and lectures, going on field trips and guided tours, spending time with all the new friends I made gave my “state of terror” a unique face that would not have existed otherwise, and made me appreciate the opportunity I was given to be here even more. As much as I am ready to go home, I will be leaving a piece of my heart here as I leave for new adventures.

Comments are closed.