As I write this, the sun dips below the Olympic mountain range, the lights of the Seattle skyline sparkle, and a blissful breeze billows my curtains. I am so happy to be home, relishing my time with family, hikes in the mountains, and lunch dates with high-school chums. Part of me, however, remains at Haverford in spirit…
This past Sunday, I spontaneously decided to go to the Seattle-based Haverford Class of 2016 Welcome Party. This is a chance for current students, newly minted Haverfordians (welcome!), and local alumni to connect before the freshmen class embarks on their own college experience. To be totally blunt, I hadn’t planned on going to this shindig; at this point, I had been away from Haverford for less than 24 hours and thought some separation from campus and the Haverford community might be needed. Silly me. Claire Perry ’14 and her family really out-hosted themselves – what a lovely home and such delicious food; thank you! The breakfast strata were wonderful, but it really was the get-together that made the afternoon so memorable.
One of many highlights includes reconnecting with a family I met on Open Campus Day; I had lunch with Anna and her mother that day, chatting about Haverford and the transition from Seattle to this community. I was also able to relive possibly my most embarrassing Admissions moment – and now I’m deciding to immortalize this magical moment online… here it goes! Anna’s mother was in the audience for the “Parents Only Panel” Admissions puts on for Open Campus Day – where parents have a few Haverford students and deans to their lonesome to grill – and therefore now knows my rather impressive commitment to familial connection. A west-coast mother had inquired as to how I deal with being so far from my family, and I perhaps foolishly, but very earnestly, shared that I call my parents on the daily. Plenty of parental applause and personal blushing soon followed.
There was more to my answer than that, even if that’s what ended up sticking. I also emphasized the close relationships you craft with your Customs group and the rest of the Haverford community, and those make the sting of the distance less. Throughout this blog, I’ve dubbed the Haverford community as the summation of current students, faculty, and staff. These are integral elements of my collegiate family – I can’t tell you how heartwarming it is to be welcomed into a friend’s home, or to have dinner with your professor and her family – but “community” really extends to everyone who’s been somehow impacted by the college.
Working in the Admissions Office this summer afforded many memorable moments, but my interactions with alumni were perhaps the most poignant. They ranged in age, from the class of ’52 to the late ‘80’s, but they all shared a commitment to the values of this campus. They emphasized how they adored what a caring community they came from, and how they really try to embody those values – namely, trust, concern, and respect – in their post-Haverford lives.
Meeting Melissa Lanctot, ’00, and Ari Worthman, ’02, both of whom were in attendance on Sunday, only concretized the sentiment. Here we were in Seattle, thousands of miles away from campus, but we might as well have been having a conversation over a DC table. It’s funny how you find commonalities within the community. Sure, Melissa and I have both taken classes with some of the same professors, Ari and I could each contribute moments of hilarity from the Haverford Admissions Office, but it’s much more than that. We recognize what a special place Haverford is, and whether a current or former student, we carry a little bit of campus around with us.
So, maybe to amend my Parents’ Panel answer: I love my family dearly, and I try to call them everyday because I want to hear how their day has been, to know what my fair city is up to, and to keep them up to date with my collegiate life. But Haverford is my home now, and the community – including alumni, family, and friends of the college – has become my very large, very extended, if non-genetic family. That makes the distance of a 6-hour flight seem nominal at worst.
Finally, one thing I didn’t mention during the emotional shuffle of the Parents’ Panel: My father now adamantly states that he doesn’t miss me when I’m gone. This is partly to bother me, but there’s a legitimacy to his jest; he knows how wonderfully happy I am across the country, so he’s happy too. To the class of 2016 parents, you will miss your kid. They will miss you too. But they will also have the time of their lives. Take solace in the fact that your child has come to a place where they can be wholly content, and in the fact that you are now also a part of the greater Haverford community. And maybe, if Parents’ Panel participants adopt my practices, you can look forward to daily phone calls too.
A ferry now sweeps through Puget Sound. How fortunate I am to live in such a gorgeous city, and how very, very fortunate I am to be a part of an omnipresent community. I might as well be watching the geese glide through the duck pond…