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A Love Letter to Oberlin

July 28, 2022

Aishwarya Krishnaswamy ’23

Dear Oberlin, 

I have known for a bit now that I was meant to be here. Three years ago, I took a massive leap of faith when I hit that accept button without ever visiting Oberlin. I trusted my intuition and believed she would do the best for me. I can think about a million ways this could have gone wrong. Yet, as I embark on my final year of college as a senior, I am amazed by how beautifully my journey has unfolded/is unfolding here. Like Monique gives the 'river analogy',  my river has beautifully curved and twisted, creating an oasis with every challenge thrown my way. 

Now let me back up a bit. A few weeks ago, during commencement week, I noticed an uncharacteristic emotionality rise within me. Waking up that morning, I was a little nervous about being surrounded by throngs of parents, relatives, and alumni. I felt bittersweet seeing the gleeful faces of my friends who were graduating but happy for them nevertheless. As I walked across Tappan on June 5th, 2022, I couldn’t help but wonder how interesting life is. We all come here (to Oberlin) from vastly different backgrounds yet simultaneously connected by this thread of togetherness. Within a finite period, once again, we embark on our own journeys with little certainty that our paths will cross ever again. With hearts with unwavering hope, we walk apart. I found myself tearing up when I thought that soon, in about one year, my time will also come to an end. One of my friends, Khush, introduced me to the term ‘anticipatory nostalgia’; these words profoundly capture an emotional state I often feel upon realizing that I have more Oberlin days behind me than ahead of me! 

As I walked through Tappan that day, I was surprised to see the class of 1970-72, I believe. I saw people who looked much older than me vibrating with the Obie spirit, proudly wearing their ‘Oberlin 1970’ badges and beaming with joy. I couldn’t help but wonder what connection they must feel to this land, to the people, and their experience here to come back 50 years later from wherever they are around the world. Some in their wheelchairs and walkers were just as content to be united again with their friends and fond memories. Outside Severance Hall (the Psychology building), the class of 1970 was taking their reunion photo. I stopped dead in my tracks as I saw this generation of Obies who lived here much before I did and experienced Obieland back in the day. While I don’t know any of them at all, I still felt this weird sense of connection to them just knowing that they, too, once walked around Tappan like I did or might have sat on the arch and admired Peters Hall as I do. I saw this brown woman who vaguely shared some physical resemblance to me. Her black hair was adorned with grey streaks of aging, and she smiled with a contented warmth alongside her class. I found a slow tear creeping down my cheek; in those moments I silently wished that 50 years from now I find my way back to this land no matter where I am or what I am doing. I hope to return and radiate with the same contentment, peace, and connection my predecessors beam with today. 

With abundant warmth and gratitude,

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