So here I am nine weeks later, with my first term at Dartmouth coming to a close. As I reflect on all of my great memories this term and over these past few weeks I am extremely grateful for all of the opportunities I have been given and all of the people with whom I have crossed paths. Two weeks ago, I had my first dance group performance (in a parking lot, Step Up style, naturally) with a group of people that has become my family away from home. This past weekend, I went to Montreal in the Canadian province of Quebec with the Programming Board and a few close friends. We climbed Mount Royal, ate a delicious dish called poutine, dabbed in speaking French (I have only studied Latin as my foreign language, so this was interesting for me) and had the experience of a lifetime. Just last night, I heard the most powerful testimonies given by a few of my peers at the Christian Union Thanksgiving Dinner event that allowed me to see them in such a different light. In this welcoming environment, I learned that everyone has been through so much on his or her journey to Dartmouth, and it is truly inspiring how beautiful and strong these individuals that I greet in passing each day actually are.
Every week, I am reminded, too, of how small this world is and how our campus, a collegiate microcosm, makes it even smaller. On my way back to my dorm from my 9L in the mornings, somehow I manage to walk by President Hanlon and we casually exchange our hellos regularly. At my Link Up “Proud to be a Woman” Dinner this term, I was fortunate enough to be placed at a table with our college’s First Lady, Gale Gentes, and we were able to discuss not only issues for women in society and the workplace, but also steps towards solutions. At that same dinner, I met another student who basically is my academic twin. I plan to study either anthropology or classics as I delve into the pre-medical studies track here. The ’16 I met is a classical studies major on the pre-med path, and because there are so few of us out there, we bonded and eventually went on a coffee date to discuss our shared interests and future goals. It eased my mind a bit to get advice from someone who is also in the process of fulfilling such goals and could help me figure out the best way to achieve them. Yet another, more random encounter I had last night involved me meeting the female rapper Awkwafina while I was leaving the Friday Night Rock event held in Sarner Underground, us hugging, and her then complimenting my dance moves in the front row (unfortunately no pictures were taken as proof of this event because I didn’t want to be THAT uncool fan who needed a photo…and mostly because my phone was dead. That probably was a huge factor to be honest.) Suffice it to say, this campus is just the right size because there is always something going on and you are always meeting someone new.
In each new meeting, one thing never fails. Even as the term nears its end, I always get asked the question, “So, what made you come to Dartmouth?” For the triple-legacy student whose ancestors probably bled green, a classic retort may be, “You should replace that ‘what,’ with ‘who.’” In fact, that’s not really something you ask the legacy students, the boarding school kids, or the New England private school graduates. That’s a question you ask the only-child who’s lived in Mississippi her entire life, without a single family member residing in the New England states mind you, and is about to experience more than one quarter of an inch of snow for the first time ever. What I have noticed though, is that my answer always changes: “Definitely the people.” “The environment and the scenery – the campus is beautiful!” “Umm…all of Dimensions weekend. For sure.” “The Profs. They are so passionate about what they teach.” “The opportunities for undergraduate research.” “I’m in love with the D Plan.” “The traditions and love from alums. You can’t get that anywhere else.” Now, I still haven’t come up with a set answer. I wish there were something that I could say that would encompass all of the above – one little sentence or five word phrase favored by the human ear that I could tell a group of parents and students touring campus or that one newspaper interviewing students on the Green. For now, my answer will be “Dartmouth is a special place,” and I can only hope that anyone who sets foot on this campus will be able to understand what that means.