Over the past four years, my favorite place to blog has been on the window seat of an airplane. I look out over snowy mountaintops or the flatlands of the Midwest as I reflect on my semesters on my way to and from my two homes. Planes have provided a much-needed anonymous space to process my experiences, separate from people who know me in my many roles at Oberlin and in California. Aside from an occasional peek at my laptop by my seatmate, nothing interrupts these moments. Right now, I’m flying from San Francisco to Cleveland, heading back to Oberlin for my last few months of undergrad! Over spring break, my moms and I reflected on the incredible opportunities I’ve had and relationships I’ve built in college. I’m returning to school determined to fully inhabit every second left, including all the little everyday moments, like sitting in the window at Slow Train with an English breakfast tea or getting a soft-serve at Stevie.
I realized this week that one thing I’ll miss quite deeply about my Oberlin experience is writing for the Blogs. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it - building a community with people I've never met through my writing and reflections on this significant period of my life.
In my junior and senior years of high school, I was OBSESSED with the Oberlin Blogs. I had the link in my Bookmarks bar and I’d click it every day to see if anything new had been posted (no joke). Living over two thousand miles away from Oberlin, I was able to feel like part of the campus community through the Blogs. I couldn’t attend All Roads (the admitted students event), so instead I spent the weekend clicking through old posts, reading Ida’s incredible Oberlin guidelines (which now make me emotional as a graduating senior) and Emily’s reflection on her "semester in books." When I got to school that August, I saw some familiar faces from the Blogs right away. They seemed like minor celebrities to me! I applied to be a blogger as soon as the application opened, and started writing about my experiences.
Whenever I write a post, I try to imagine my readers, all you excited younger activists and thespians and queer kids and athletes and acapella-lovers and hikers and artists and thinkers. You’re part of my Oberlin community, even if we haven’t met, and I care so much about you and what you contribute to the world. The few times that Oberlin students have come up to me and told me that they read my posts as prospies have been so precious.
As you read my blogs, I hope you get a sense of what it has meant for me to be an Obie: care for others, creative risks, goofy and loving friendships, and commitment to grounding our education in real-world issues. On the Blogs, much has been written about Oberlin’s admissions slogan, “Think one person can change the world? So do we.” (Check out posts by Lilah, Kameron, and El.) Some people worry that it places too much emphasis on the individual in a way that limits grassroots change, while others love that it puts Oberlin's attention to social justice front and center. What I take from it is the shared idealism and tenderness and desire for change that Obies (and prospective Obies) have. In college, I’ve learned that we can change the world by changing our communities and our relationships. Oberlin is where I’ve developed my sense of what matters to me and how I’m uniquely equipped to spark change when I work together with others.
The summer before college started, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t find “my people” at Oberlin, that somehow I would end up hanging out with people who didn’t quite “get” me. That was my fear talking, sure, but it was a fear that came from a real place of not quite fitting in in some previous social situations. Though there have been a few friendship bumps in the road at Oberlin – because when are there not going to be any bumps in the road? – I can truly say that I feel more authentic than ever in my relationships. I don’t have to compromise anything for my friendships. I’m full Kira and my people like me just as I am. That’s my Oberlin and it can be yours too. You will find your people here.
I haven’t graduated quite yet, but I want to say this now: I feel honored to have gotten to be one of the people who brings Oberlin into your life, wherever you are. Thank you for being here with me and reading my writing. It all comes straight from the heart. If you ever need anything, I’m only an email away at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I promised myself a few years ago that I’d only laugh if I wanted to – no fake giggles to fit in or make other people feel comfortable. Just genuine joy. These days, I keep hearing these deep belly laughs, these throw-your-head back laughs. I look around at my friends, new and old, gathered around in someone’s living room drinking chocolate milk and dancing, heads on shoulders and hands clasped. I snap a mental picture, let myself feel it. And then I go back to laughing.
Song of the week: Back In My Body by Maggie Rogers. I promise that you need this song in your life!!