By Allegra Maldonado
We spend roughly seven months of each year on the Hill. Multiply this by four and you get 28. We spend twenty-eight months, or just over two years total, at Kenyon.
This is a relatively short span of time when statistics report the average American lifespan to be roughly 80 years. So I ask you, Kenyon — its faculty, its students, its dorm and classroom walls that undoubtedly hold countless hilarious, heart-breaking and edifying memories — how do you make so many eager (and some not-so-eager) learners feel like they have found “home” in but a brief flicker? We come from many different homes. Just look at the door decs you pass by every day. Emblazoned on some of them are the names of small towns, big cities and countries halfway around the world. Yet away from these homes we have established another. One that, while founded on principles of learning, feels a lot more like a community than like a school.
College is not necessarily a formative period in every student’s life. A few people drop out. Some people graduate with a major they have no passion for and are left with regret over their academic choices. Most people do not take stock of the seemingly insignificant details of the day-to-day or process the ways in which their surroundings affect them. But Kenyon seems different.
What I think is impressive about Kenyon is how readily we accept belonging to the Kenyon family. It is when this occurs that we transform in great ways in a matter of only a few years. The question arises of how to achieve this. I am no wise man and can offer no answers beyond the platitudes of “join clubs,” “never skip class” or “be friendly to everyone you meet,” but perhaps it’s no more complicated than what they suggest.
Perhaps the adage “a little bit goes a long way” rings true. Making friends is not about attending every all-campus party (though it can be fun); doing well academically just means showing up to class and participating (although outside study time is still required); and brightening someone’s day is as simple as a smile, a wave and a hello.
I am learning in my sociology course about the nuances in the definitions of arrangements, practices and institutions; the slight variation comes from their durability, institutions being the longest-lasting. My proposition to the Kenyon community: let’s make all these little things — holding doors open, engaging in polite discourse, lending a hand to a friend in need — institutions at Kenyon. When we do these things we strengthen the core of Kenyon, our home (at least for those 28 months).
Allegra Maldonado ’17
is an international studies major from Indianapolis, Ind. She can be contacted at email@example.com.