If you talk to any of the admissions counselors at Oberlin and ask about what there is to do on campus, we will tell you that there are over 500 concerts and over 40 theater and dance productions at Oberlin each year. Those are impressive numbers, and they are real--someone actually keeps track of these things and counts them up. But, they're still just numbers, and they don't even take into account all of the lectures and other events on campus. To help put it all into perspective, I thought I would share with you the Oberlin-sponsored events I attended this past week:
Last Saturday, I had the privilege of seeing Ishmael Beah speak about the language of displacement. (His was the last talk of our Geographies of Displacement symposium.) This is the second time I have seen Ishmael speak on campus, and he was mesmerizing as always. Ishmael was a child soldier in Sierra Leone, and wrote the bestselling memoir (and fantastic read) A Long Way Gone. Incidentally, he's also an Oberlin alum and began writing his book at Oberlin with the support of the creative writing faculty here.
Also on Saturday, I attended the senior recital of a friend of mine, and got to hear some fantastic violin music. It's always mind-blowing to realize just how fantastic your friends in the Conservatory really are at playing their instruments.
On Tuesday, I saw Howard Dean speak. As a former politics major, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to hear him speak, and learned many fascinating tidbits about the Democratic party.
On Thursday, I got to see Toni Morrison in a packed Finney Chapel. I'd been pretty bummed about missing all of our previous Convocation speakers this year (Brian Greene, Michael Pollan, Newt Gingrich...), so I made sure to go pick up a ticket as soon as they became available, waiting in a line that stretched for half a block. Convocation events are always free, but tickets are required for speakers in particularly high demand. This one was definitely worth the wait--the excitement in Finney at seeing Toni Morrison was palpable, and she walked both in and out to a standing ovation.
Last night, I planned to see some kind of funk/jazz concert by Soulive, a band I'd never heard of. I really had no idea what to expect, but it was also being held in Finney, and I've never been disappointed by a concert I've seen there. Finney is the largest concert space on campus, so I don't think anyone who isn't expected to be really good is scheduled there. While I was a student at Oberlin I saw many amazing shows there by bands I had never heard of--everything from folk to bluegrass to jazz to an African rock band. Last night's show turned out to be fantastic, and almost the entire audience was up dancing in the aisles.
However, what really stands out to me about the busy week I've just had is the the sheer number of events I didn't attend. For instance, I didn't go to any of the Dandelion Romp, a weekend-long contra dancing event that draws people from all over the country. I didn't go hear the Juilliard Quartet perform last Wednesday. I didn't go see Reefer Madness, an apparently hysterical satirical play. I passed up about eight different events happening at the same time when I decided to go to the concert last night. And that's just the tip of the iceberg--check out the online events calendar if you don't believe me.