Oberlin Blogs

Socialists, bagpipes, and bees, oh my!

July 5, 2009

Chris Gollmar ’10

There isn’t anywhere I would rather be spending my summer right now than in Oberlin. Luckily, that’s exactly where I am. Many of my friends are here, the weather is great, everything is super peaceful, and I’m actually getting some reading done. I even fixed up an old bike so that I could zip around town and venture out into the nearby country roads. There really is something quite special about the golden summer sunlight that shines down across the farm fields in these never-ending July afternoons.

My job, however, is a little lackluster at first glance. (I hope my supervisors would agree with me on this point.) I am working for the Office of Conference Services as one of about 15 Conference Assistants. I suppose this position doesn’t really stand out so much in the grab-bag of typical summer jobs: on any given day, I might end up checking in guests, logging maintenance orders, lugging linens across campus, or doing dishes. This certainly isn’t the first summer I’ve spent doing menial labor. The good side of such a job, though, is that the tasks I am assigned change on a daily basis.

However, the real exciting part of working for Conference Services is working with all of the groups that rent the College’s facilities over the summer. We started the summer off with a bang. Our largest conference group, the Socialist Workers Party held their yearly gathering here in mid-June. In residence hall rooms that usually house studious Obies these workers and party organizers stayed. In classrooms and lecture halls they held their meetings and film screenings. And in the Science Center atrium, typically a lively hangout and study spot for Oberlin students, they even held a sewing workshop for workers in the garment industry.

The Ohio Scottish Arts School similarly retooled College spaces for its week-long institute. Another large group, they took over almost all of South Hall as well as program houses Harvey, Kade, and Price. The smaller halls’ lounges were re-envisioned as rehearsal rooms for harpists and snare drums. Wilder Bowl, which had heretofore been dead quiet this summer, was teeming with bagpipes. Young dancers in bright tartans hopped up the stairs to Stevenson dining hall with prop swords.

SWP and OSAS are just a couple of the many, many diverse groups that blow into town during the summer months. Some of the smaller groups do keep to themselves a bit more than these two, but each does bring its own personality and vibrancy to the campus. Despite the short-fallings of my summer job, it has been great to see how Oberlin is still so very much alive during the “off season.” Let’s just see if I hold out after the beekeepers convention. (Yes, they’re bringing bees.)

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