Senior year of college is a time to be forward-looking, but I am trying my best to absorb the details of this special little place, like how kids attempt to fill every corner of their lungs with oxygen before they dive underwater.
I was on Zoom for hours this morning chatting with graduate schools, while central Ohio was letting down inches of white fluffiness. This is what Christmas was supposed to look like three months ago, I thought to myself. When I hung up the call right before I was going to walk to my senior seminar, the sun came out. Somehow even with the snow, it reminded me more of late fall than early spring.
I never thought much about Kenyon’s seasonal changes, corn fields, shallow rivers, or even classes or people before I came here four years ago. In fact, I was more concerned about who I would go to prom with and what graduation photos I should post on Instagram. College was always going to happen, a place for me to live the next phase of my life, like what they all said. I did not ask many questions about this place then – what the professors were like, what it would be like to live in rural Ohio – but what I can say now is that I am who I am today because of exactly where I am. Throughout my four years at Kenyon, I have grown in ways that I had not imagined.
I arrived at Kenyon in mid-August of 2018 for the First-Year International Pre-Orientation. I lived abroad for the first half of my life and moved to a suburban town from middle school through high school. As a teenager, I closely mimicked those around me, trying to fit in. But the second I stepped foot on the Kenyon campus, I was greeted with faces from all parts of the world and classmates with an array of interests. They spoke about traveling the world and bartending before college, living through war zones in Palestine, leaving Egypt for the first time and coming to Gambier, Ohio without having known what Ohio really was. I listened to them converse in Urdu, Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic. They were laughing, asking me where I was from and why I chose Kenyon. My peers were unapologetically themselves, teaching me how liberating it was to be my genuine self.