And… We’re Back
“Hey, how’s it going?!”
“Pretty good, you?”
“Good, good. How was your summer?”
“It was pretty fun, I was a camp counselor. Role model for the youth, you know. What about you?”
“Oh, I did research/had an internship/stayed in Worcester/worked at home.”
“That’s cool, awesome!”
I experienced some version of that conversation about fifty times yesterday. It was the first day back to campus and there was a huge barbecue on the Green, which is this large lawn in the middle of campus. Most schools refer to such a large, outdoor area as a quad, but our quad isn’t a quadrilateral, so we don’t call it a quad. Challenging convention. Bam.
Anyway, this barbecue on the Green is the annual “Good golly, I haven’t seen any of you folks in four months, how are all of you?” event.
I have a fierce aversion to small-talk. While I listen to someone in a small-talky conversation, I’m always not listening to them, I’m actually focusing on what I should say next, because I fear awkward silence like a five year-old fears broccoli. You, the curious reader, might infer that loathing small-talk might be a problem on the first day back at school. That event on the Green is almost entirely small-talk like the conversation reproduced above.
The thing is, though, it isn’t really that small-talky. One of the things that I love most about Clark is that everyone seems genuinely interested in stuff. So when I tell my friends (or people that I sort of casually know) about what I did during the summer, they listen to me. And I listen to them.
That’s because Clark is a community. There’s a substantial difference between wanting to come to college to learn stuff from your professors and coming to college to learn stuff from your peers. While Clark’s professors are intelligent and fabulous in many ways, I learn as much from other students as I do from them. Listening to another student give a presentation, or respond to a question in class, or even tell me what they did over the summer is downright exciting at Clark because of how much everyone cares about what they do and how excited they are to tell you about it.
This is the point of college, in a lot of ways: find something you love doing and get good at it. This barbecue on the Green is my time to check in with my friends and see how well the summer worked out for them in terms of fulfilling this huge collegiate goal. It’s satisfying to know that Clark is a place where we can grow together in this way, and that we care about what we all have to say and that we’re willing to work together. Because someday, we’re going to go out into the big, bad, world and we won’t be able to fix it on our own.