Far from the familiar flurry that comes upon us as we prepare for move-in, this August, our community is spread all over the world taking online classes and gap semesters. We are all united in a state of crisis against a common enemy, yet its impact on each of us is far from equal. I have spent the better part of this year wistfully pining for the past we left and begrudging the four-year college experience that had been stolen away by politics and our country’s collective failure to mitigate the epidemic. The darkest points of the tunnel only seem to grow darker. The last light behind is too far away to turn back to, and the one that should be ahead is nowhere to be found. I envision myself holding a candle that is weak but alive, a representation of my ever-present hope in humanity, our country, and science to illuminate the light ahead.
As you read this, I encourage you to envision with me the future when our paths are finally lit, and the end of the journey is near. I see the collective return of the consortium with a snow-capped Mount Baldy as our backdrop. A campus that is cautious but optimistic, thrumming with the energy of eight thousand young adults reunited. We welcome ourselves back to the safe, familiar, and supportive community from which we were displaced. Maybe this time when we say, “Text me and we’ll grab a meal,” we will mean it and make it happen.
Claremont is the unfamiliar college town, seven thousand miles away from where I grew up, where I ultimately found a home away from home. I appreciated many things at school, but by my perfectionist nature, I always sought for more. “Why isn’t the ramen at Menkoi-Ya more authentic?” “Why is the beach fifty, traffic-filled miles away?” “Why is good boba so difficult to find within walking distance?” However, all this time I spent shuffling along the dark tunnel, I could not help but miss the simplest things I never thought would disappear. I know this period has been an emotional rollercoaster for many. Whatever you are personally going through, feel no shame in having bad days, even if you are already better off than others. Feel no guilt in taking time for yourself, even if you are taking a lighter load and committing to less than you normally would. Lastly, feel no pressure to be your usual bubbly, optimistic self, even if it is what everyone else expects of you. We are all facing our own internal battles, bloodied and scarred from loneliness, unfamiliarity, and distance. Instead, look for what sparks your little candle and inspires you to live for something more.
So, when times get difficult and the tunnel is dark and cold, picture our return. Think of it clear as day, with the finer details in mind. From the brisk winter breeze to the warm glow of Ath Tea; from Sunday brunches at Frank to the uncomplicated process of picking a ramen spot in the village for date night; from emerging from Poppa after a long afternoon to the magnificent view of the sunset hitting the Cube – this future is ours to will to reality.
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