Oberlin Blogs

More about my tortured path to CSA

November 17, 2009

Zoe McLaughlin ’11

When I was a freshman, I was told multiple times at the helpful orientation events that I should join student organizations. Dutifully, I put my name on the mailing lists for several. I didn't actually end up playing a large part in any of them, except for CSA, and that came later. But that's actually what I want to talk about.

I went to the first meeting of CSA my freshman year. I arrived early, because I still went early to things back then, and loitered around outside the door of the room in Wilder until I felt it was a proper time to enter. There were three or four other freshmen there as well, along with the rest of CSA. I had never seen that many Chinese people in one room before. (This is not true at all, but it sounds more dramatic.)

Being a shy person, I was very, very intimidated. Everyone was nice, of course, but all the old members knew each other (of course), which was a little scary. I smiled and sat through the introductions and watched a slideshow of photographs from the past year and then I left. And then I didn't go back to another meeting.

As you know, I did later rejoin CSA, and now I'm holding an elected position and writing about it every other week. The point of this post is not how I finally made my way back to CSA, but rather my regret that I didn't do so sooner. I'd have gotten over the intimidation factor after a few weeks, and right now I might even be co-chair! (Or not. I do not want to be co-chair, ever.)

And this point leads to my greater point: freshmen really should join student organizations. Case in point: one of the freshmen in CSA this year got to go with us to Cleveland while we were grocery shopping and therefore got to eat dim sum. Frankly, this is a great reason to join.

But beyond food, now she has a whole support group of upperclassmen, which is pretty cool. Upperclassmen can give freshmen a break from the optimistic freshman way of life by giving good advice like, "Trust me. It just gets worse from here. You need to take these classes in this order so you don't go crazy like I did." They can also invite freshmen to the better parties.

...Okay, so those were both (maybe) bad examples. Nevertheless, my advice still stands. Speaking as an upperclassman, I'm very happy to see freshmen join things that I'm a part of. It means more people to help out, and they're usually very excited about things. At CSA meetings, we make it a point to bring up things for brainstorming early on. We know none of the older members will think about CSA things over the course of the week, but the freshmen have yet to become jaded and definitely will. It's really refreshing to see that kind of thing.

* * *

Reading back over this post that I wrote last night at 1:00 AM, it seems a bit too sarcastic. However, I'm not going to change it, because the underlying meaning is actually (sickly) sweet and needs to be hidden beneath some sarcasm. But to end on a happy note:

I spent Friday night at a CSA movie night, eating pizza and making fun of the movie along with my favorite CSA freshman. (There were other people there, too, but they weren't as into making fun of the movie.)

Before you ask, I don't know what the name of the movie was. I do know, though, that it was a kung fu drama and there was a guy in it who looked and acted exactly like Jack Sparrow, except that he was Asian. Unfortunately, he died very early on in the movie and was actually a very minor character. This sadness was sweetened by the fact that I got to eat a homemade smoothie.

Leave a Comment

Similar Blog Entries

A Different Experience

December 31, 2022

Phoebe McChesney

I have come to understand that there is a space and a place for everyone at Oberlin, even for those who straddle different cultural/social identities, like me.
Phoebe McChesney.