Jonathan Favero

Why am I here? It’s the ever-present, utterly perplexing question, and it underlies many of the decisions I make, whether they’re day-to-day, or big-picture. I’ve been asking myself this question for years, and am forever hopeful that, overall, life has at least some sort of meaning, and that mine in particular has a purpose. I contemplate life’s complexities and its possibilities in my compositions, and in art generally, and I find meaning through learning and my spirituality (although each propagates more questions and further doubt). Teaching, more than anything else I have done in my life, has given me a tremendous sense of purpose.

But, I often find myself feeling that I’m not doing enough, and that specifically I should be doing more for others. Although striving to create a more fulfilling existence for myself by serving others, is admittedly embedded in my ego, and stemming from my fear of life’s futility, I still fully believe it is a public-spirited pursuit, and one that everybody should undertake—as a civic duty? Yes, of course; but, also plainly as a basic measure of being human. Perhaps, this pursuit transcends self-interests when the ultimate goal is a collective well-being, in which everyone’s life is rewarding, and hopefully, some day, free of suffering.

Like my time on this planet, I will be here in the UC Davis community as a graduate student temporarily. So the question begins, “Why am I here?” and becomes, “What can I do while I’m here?”  This question drew me to the Public Scholars program in the UC Davis Humanities Institute, primarily because of the many possibilities the program affords to do public good, while meeting the community on its own terms, and placing the community’s needs first. Furthermore, the many learning experiences, the guidance and mentorship, and working with an eclectic mix of peers in the Public Scholars program will be highly beneficial, and the skills we gain in the program will undoubtedly serve us as we continue to serve our communities in the future.