Section: Features

October Break brings opportunities for rest and adventure

October Break brings opportunities for rest and adventure

The Kenyon College Outdoors Club went to Shenandoah National Park (Va.) for October Break. | ABBY GRIFFITH

From Oct. 5 to Oct. 10, Kenyon students enjoyed October Break — the first much-needed reprieve from school. For many, October Break marked a transition: from summer heat to sweater weather, from the first somewhat relaxing weeks of the school year to a more demanding workload and schedule. While some used the four-day break to relax and recharge as a way to prepare for the second half of the semester, others were inspired to take on new challenges and exciting adventures.

Silvia Martinez Gargallo ’27, who had never gone backpacking before, joined the Kenyon College Outdoors Club for a three-day backpacking trip in Shenandoah National Park (Va.). “That was really hard for me the first day because I wasn’t used to the backpack. But the second day was better, and the third day was better than the second day… We were playing some games, and mostly talked, and we sang too,” Martinez Gargallo said. When asked about her feelings upon returning to the campus, she responded: “[The trip] was an interesting experience because it was like being outside of civilization, so I was glad to return to civilization.”

Berkay Kurnaz ’27 used the fall break as an opportunity to gain insight into potential career paths by shadowing Catherine McMillin, the principal of The Arts & College Preparatory Academy in Columbus, Ohio. “I saw her navigating different conversations about Title IX. I saw her interacting with other staff and other students. She’s very supportive,” he said. However, what Kurnaz got out of this job-shadowing experience was unexpected: “[Actually] I don’t want to do education. I saw that it’s not for me. But I love being with young people,” he said. “The second day I turned it into my own little sociology experiment — How do you exist in this space? … How does education as an institution work? — It’s a big part of sociology, especially when I’m taking an intro[ductory] course right now with [Associate] Professor [of Sociology Austin] Johnson.” Despite not being inspired career-wise, Kurnaz agreed that the experience was valuable to him as a student interested in pursuing sociology. 

Julia Conner ’24, a teaching assistant for the Modern Languages and Literatures department, traveled with Robert A. Oden Jr. Professor of Chinese Jianhua Bai to an academic conference that focused on Chinese language education hosted by the Great Lakes Colleges Association. What she learned at the conference hit close to home: “There was this discussion on how to make a class that addresses the interests of all students, even if there’s a mismatch between levels or mismatch between what the students find engaging. I thought that was really pertinent to my actual experience as a student here taking Chinese classes.”

Nava Bahrampour ’27 went to a civic engagement conference for college students called Propel Ohio. On why she chose to go on the trip, Bahrampour said: “The transition from high school to college has left me not really knowing how to get started with civic engagement in Ohio. But after attending this conference, I feel like there’s a lot of direction for me and other young people to go in.” She was particularly inspired by the conference’s discussion of inclusivity in education and the importance of having uncomfortable conversations in the classroom. “I have course ideas that I wanted to propose at some point in my time at Kenyon,” she said. “One of my first ideas was a course about disability and neurodiversity across time. And I was also inspired to propose, or just take, a class on voting and democracy, because the conference really solidified how important democracy is.”

Abby Maroney ’27 had a relaxing time staying on campus. “We watched a lot of movies. Mostly in the Gund [R]esidence [H]all’s common room, or the Gund [Residence Hall] classroom. We went to Mount Vernon one day… It was mostly just resting.”

Nina Esteghamat ’27 found herself among her family, her best friend and her dog. “I went with my parents to the farmers market. And my best friend was home, so we got to go to a pumpkin patch, hang out and get coffee,” Esteghamat said. “It was nice, because I was kind of worried that I’d be like a very different person [from before leaving for Kenyon]. And I am different, but like it’s still home. Two homes now.”

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