The End of the World: Reflections

I’m currently flying on a plane from a layover in Phoenix to Kansas City to visit my relatives. It’s Wednesday. In Claremont, some of my peers are taking 2-5 p.m. finals, some of them have also already gone, some of them are writing essays, some of them may be studying, some of them are packing, some of them are reflecting on the past semester. Even though I’m not in Claremont, I’m going to attempt to count myself as a member of that last category.

This post will be published on December 21, 2012. This day is the 125th day of this blog, “Voices,” which has been providing daily posts from Pomona College students. This blog is meant to celebrate Pomona College in its 125th year. So I’d like to take this moment to say, Happy 125th (day), Voices, and Happy 125th (year), Pomona (and Happy End, World).

Now, I don’t have anything super awesome planned to celebrate this event. The media outreach web editors of Pomona College have been doing a pretty good job of cataloguing Pomona’s history. C’mon, have you seen the interactive timeline? There are some absolutely fabulous pictures that have resurfaced from Pomona’s early years—of really great Cecil costumes, really great clothing choices, and really great dorm room decorations. But I’m no expert on Pomona’s past. I can only speak confidently of my experience of Pomona’s present.

I’ve been writing a post for this blog every Friday for the past four months. In the beginning, my sister joked that “I should only choose to do things in my life that would make an interesting blog post.” Granted, writing for this blog did make me more aware of certain events, and probably motivated me to take more notes during talks or more pictures during events. Still, I didn’t change my lifestyle to make it more entertaining. Thing is, Pomona presents us with so many amazing and entertaining opportunities all the time. And it’s not just Pomona. It’s the people the institution attracts. And I feel like (and hope) that this attraction has existed for all of Pomona’s 125 years. I like to imagine that past students had somewhat ridiculous, or borderline existential, or loudly complaintive, or comfortably mundane conversations while eating in Frary or strolling across Marston Quad. The highlights of my semester did not come from seeking remarkable experiences or events, but from seeking (and finding) curious people. Here, I mean curious in the inquisitive way as well as the “slightly odd and puzzling” way. They kept, and keep, my life exciting.

My roommate Sarah likes to ask a lot of personal questions. I’ve never considered it a bad thing. I’ve learned a lot from her about how to be comfortable with people and have remarkable and memorable conversations. Recently, my favorite new question of hers is, “What word could people describe you as that would make you most proud?” Being Pomona students, a lot of people clarify that it’s a word they haven’t necessarily heard someone use to describe them before, but would make them most proud to know that it had been used. Every single person asked has been able to come up with reflective responses, even after initial resistance and “I don’t know’s.” Adjectives chosen include: kind, helpful, comforting, intelligent, self-sacrificing, thoughtful, and good. No one’s repeated another person’s answer. To you, these answers might seem generic, like, “who says good? Everyone wants to be considered good.” But if you’d been around these people when they responded, and heard the way they said these words and how they explained their choices, you’d understand that these words aren’t arbitrary. They represent different and well-contemplated views of people on how they want to present themselves and interact with the world.

I know that different people and different viewpoints can be found anywhere, and such an experience is not unique to Pomona College—but that’s where I found it. As previously discussed, I haven’t been living my life in a way so that it makes for exciting blog posts; rather, my blog posts are about things I think are important or impactful. I honestly have no way of knowing if people read them, albeit like them. Sure, Dean Feldblum and Pomona College have tweeted about a couple of them, but that doesn’t tell me about the readers. I’d like to hope that you’ve gained something from my posts, and from those of my fellow bloggers, be it insight to the inner-workings of Pomona College and its students, or just a small chuckle. We’re just telling it like it is. No icing, no fairy dust.

I could’ve gone to Brown. Everyone would’ve been automatically impressed by merely the name. Brown’s an Ivy. But I don’t need external validation to know I made the right choice. And it’s all right here. (Well, not actually, because I’m currently flying over some part of the Southwestern United States—I’m bad at geography, ok.) It’s all at Pomona. But Pomona is much, much more than the buildings and the grounds. It’s the people who have walked and lived in these spaces—the people who, though they may not have left any physical marks, created a legacy of intellectual conversation and action. A legacy that I hope I’m continuing today, in Pomona’s 125th year, and one that I hope continues far into the future.

Whoa. Dramatic. I finished that rather emotionally, just as I see, through my airplane window, the sun setting on the horizon and the sky darkening. It’s pretty awesome.

And, hey, I guess it’s fitting that all of this is coming to a close at the End of the World. It’s been a good run. <3

And because it’s winter break, I’m going to leave you with some completely unrelated pictures and tidbits celebrating the holidays at the Claremont Colleges.

Happy holidays, everyone. And to those college kids out there: rest up, because we’re in store for a whole other eye-opening, boundary-pushing, mentally-challenging semester. (That is, if we survive today.)