‘Enthusiastic’, ‘passionate’, ‘energetic’ are the words that best describe professor Baran Han. She has always showed great energy not only in teaching but also in advising. She seems to be more caring because she is also KDI School Alumni who graduated in 2004.
What was the most difficult course for you when you were studying at KDIS?
I do not remember a specific difficult course, but they were all very new to me and required a lot of work. I could usually be found either in the student study chambers or in the hallway of the faculty offices waiting for professors’ office hours. When I had a question or something wasn’t clear, I made sure I got an answer.
If you did not become an economist or a professor, what would you be doing now? Why?
I think I would be happy working in a job related to any stage of the policy making process, from grassroots community organizing to final bureaucratic work.
On a total different note, there was a time when I thought about going back to school to become a clinical psychologist. I have decided against it because I just couldn’t see myself doing another PhD. The role that psychotherapy can play in making a person‘s life a little bit easier has always appealed to me.
How do you manage to work and take care of your children at the same time?
I have two kids who are two and four years old. They are a joy to be with most of the time (haha), but it is very hard. My partner and I run a very tight schedule in coordination with the kids’ daycare system. There are many days I feel like I am failing on all fronts – not spending enough time with my kids, not getting as much work done as I would like to, not being able to exercise regularly, and so forth. It is not that I was super productive when I did not have children. Then I was not doing work, it was by choice. Now, I have much less control over my time and that is frustrating.
My mantra that gets me through the day is “It is what it is, you do what you can, and let’s just take one day at a time.” I try to work consistently, break down large tasks and go for small wins. I am also blessed with close friends that I can talk to when I am in a mental block. The struggle is less lonely whenever I come across people who understand how difficult it can be to juggle multiple roles.
If you can go back to your 20s, what would you do or not do?
Looking back, I was very goal oriented, and spent too much time worrying about not being good enough or not becoming the person that I aspired to be. I remember one day whining to a close friend in graduate school how unhappy and overwhelmed I was, and he said “You should go outside more. Look at the flowers, the nature – enjoy their beauty! There is so much more to life than this (pointing to the whiteboard we were writing on)” If I could go back to my twenties, I would exactly do that. I would live more in the present, be more generous towards myself, and focus on the things I can do.
How would you want to be remembered by students?
I would like to be remembered as someone who delivered what was expected of her as a professor. From a student’s perspective, it would be decent teaching and research guidance, and when one is going through difficulty at school, a helping hand.