Dream of: 14 December 1996 "Harvard"
I was on the campus of Harvard, where I was planning to start classes. This was the first day and all the new in-coming students were supposed to attend an assembly at which I would give a speech because I was the designated "president-elect" of our class. I wasn't exactly sure what being "president-elect" meant, or how I had been chosen; I only knew that such was the case.
Several other people would also be speaking at the assembly, and I was supposed to simply stand and give a short speech. I continued walking around the campus, trying to figure out what I would say. When I walked past the place where the assembly was scheduled to occur, I saw people already starting to gather. The place looked like an outside auditorium. Only a few people were already there, and I kept my distance, still trying to decide what I was going to say. I thought the assembly would somewhat resemble a commencement ceremony, and I tried to think of the kinds of things which might be said at a commencement. As I began trying to go over in my mind the points I would try to make, I wondered if I should write down my thoughts so I wouldn't forget them.
I might mention that I had once before been on Harvard campus and that I had walked around there. In fact it seemed as if I had walked around there two or three times before. However I had never thought I myself would end up going to Harvard. I knew I had already gone to college elsewhere, but now the idea of actually taking classes at Harvard was exciting and pleasing. I was in an extremely good mood at the prospects of studying at Harvard.
I thought that in my speech I might say that I had come from humble beginnings, that my family had been very poor, and that I had never thought I would make it to Harvard. I might also bring up that I had received a scholarship from the National Endowment for the Humanities which would pay for my entire first year of studies – all my tuition, room and board. It seemed like the total amount for the first year was around $420,000.
I also thought that during the speech I would bring up the issue of the legalization of drugs. This was an issue which was close and dear to me, and I began trying to think about how I would broach the subject. I quickly decided that it would be best not to talk about the legalization of all drugs, that I should concentrate only on the legalization of marijuana. I thought I should say that during the next four years – the time during which all these students would be at Harvard – it was time for marijuana to be legalized.
I knew I myself didn't use drugs, and I thought perhaps I should also add that drugs were dangerous, but then I decided it wouldn't be a good idea to say that drugs were dangerous, because I didn't think that was actually a true statement. I however thought I should say something like, "But as long as you are here, don't do drugs, because it'd be punished severely." I would then point out that even though the students didn't actually take any drugs, they should still work toward the legalization of marijuana.
I didn't know how this speech would be received, and I didn't even know whether I should talk about drugs, but I thought the legalization of marijuana was still going to be essential in my message to the students.
Feeling as if the time for the assembly to begin was growing close, I walked nearer to the auditorium, where I could see the students already beginning to gather. When I looked inside, I was surprised that although some of the people were sitting down, most were on their feet and dancing. Everyone appeared to be in a happy mood because they were getting ready to start college.
Finally things began to quiet down, and people began taking their seats. An announcement was made that the first speaker should now come to the front stage, and that the first speaker was Jimmy Carter. When I saw Carter walking toward the stage, I realized the assembly was beginning and I hurried to a place behind the stage which was reserved for the speakers. As I reached the row of chairs where the speakers were sitting, I could see more clearly out into the auditorium, which now looked more like a huge outdoor stadium completely filled with people.
As I took a seat among the row of speakers, a woman asked me who I was. I told her my name, and that I was the president-elect. She indicated she understood who I was. I then asked her if she knew what I was supposed to say when I gave my speech. She seemed unsure, so I just sat there and listened to the other speakers, waiting my turn.
I listened to several different speakers make short speeches, and I tried to get an idea of what they were saying, still trying to decide what I would say. When one speaker spoke, he pointed to a tall black student sitting in the front row. I thought the student might be a basketball player. When black fellow was pointed out, he stood and began singing a beautiful soulful song. The song was short, and when he was finished the black student sat back down.
Continuing to look around me, I noticed to our right a wall made of glass. A tall strong-looking Hispanic man (probably in his mid 30s) was standing on the other side of the glass wall. He was dressed in work clothes which made me think he might be a window washer. I thought that when I gave my speech, I might point to the man, and mention my affinity to Hispanic people. I could mention that I spoke Spanish, and I might even holler out to the Hispanic man and speak to him through the window.
However, mainly I was still planning to concentrate my speech on the issue of drugs and the legalization of drugs. I felt that this should be a rather liberal body of people with whom to talk, and that the students should be receptive to the idea of legalizing marijuana. I hoped for a good reception.
I might also pepper my speech with accounts of the time I had been in jail for quite a while in Iran. Plus I thought I had been in jail on other occasions, and I could mention that. Talking about how a person could go to Harvard after having been in jail might prove entertaining. However, I wasn't completely sure it would be wise to bring up the fact that I had spent time in jail.
I also wondered whether I should mention that I had been to law school and that I was a lawyer. Thinking of this fact, I thought I might even practice some law while I was going to Harvard. I knew I wasn't licensed to practice law in Massachusetts, but I still had my legal knowledge which I could put to use. In my speech, I might even mention that if someone had a legal problem, he or she might ask me for advice. However, I wasn't sure it was a good idea to bring that up either.
My thoughts were interrupted as the man who was presently speaking turned around, looked at me and pointed to me. The speaker said something to the audience about the smile on my face. Only then did I realize that all the time I had been sitting there, I had displayed a big smile on my face, and that even now I just couldn't seem to stop smiling. But I felt so happy, and the smile just seemed to reflect how I felt. I was extremely happy, and I just couldn't seem to stop smiling.
Now everyone was looking at me and my smile. Even though I was happy, I didn't think I had a particularly pretty smile, and I thought perhaps the speaker was making fun of me. But slowly I realized that the speaker wasn't making fun of me, that he was simply pointing out that I was a happy type of fellow. When a couple other people also spoke up and said something about my smile, I thought I should say something back. After all, I was at Harvard now, and I couldn't just sit around and not say something. I was expected to contribute in some way. Finally, trying to be humorous, I blurted out, "You can't even smile at Harvard?"
I had tried to speak loud enough so the people in the audience could hear me, but there was no reaction at all. I hoped someone might laugh at my humor, but no one said anything. I quickly concluded I hadn't been very funny after all. I also noticed that when I had pronounced the word "Harvard," I had pronounced the word with the Midwestern accent with which I had grown up. I hadn't spoken the word the way someone from Massachusetts would have said the word. I reflected that I would probably soon modify my accent and begin talking more like the people in this area.
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