If there is one thing I learned how to do better at Oberlin that wasn't advertised at first it is that I am now very good at applause. I mean, I knew how to applaud, I went to theater performances before I came here, I applauded along with the masses when a flight would arrive in Israel (apparently it's a travel tradition, and a great one; I'd recommend it on all flights, actually), but at Oberlin, applause is a way of life.
Thing one about clapping at Oberlin: If you're in a co-op, you do it at least twice a day. To show their appreciation for the meal, both for the food and the people involved with its preparation. If the meal is exceptionally good, sometimes it happens more than once. Either way, it's such a positive note for all the meals to have applause. Think about doing it at home too.
Thing two about clapping at Oberlin: After your warm up with constant clapping in co-ops, you can practice a whole bunch at student performances, whether it be dance, theater, music, improv, performance art, burlesque, student bands, what have you. If people do something you like, you can clap. And it is highly encouraged.
Thing three about clapping at Oberlin: It happens more and more closer to the end of the year. One of the nicest traditions I find endearing here is the act of applauding our professors during our last class meeting of the semester. It's only a small token of our appreciation, but it's encouraging all around. Last spring in my cinema class, we heard audible cheers from the Intro to Economics class next door, and decided we would outdo them by going on for a full five minutes, with hoops and hollers galore. Also, Pat Day deserves it. He's the man!
We clap at all the various end-of-year events, too. During today's senior student athletes award luncheon, I noted that everyone had an accompanying action. Many folks would grin at the person being honored, or catcall and whistle in their general direction. Marvin Krislov had a good hearty clap, and I'm sure he's had a bunch of practice since getting here. We have a lot to be proud of.
Many of the athletics teams punctuate successful moves or points scored with claps and applause too. The volleyball team claps emphatically after significantly difficult volleys; the tennis team has more calm applause, but it is there still. Anything to encourage the players even more.
Stinging palms are only a small lasting reminder of how wonderful something is. Or maybe it's for those special lamps. Just as long as my hands don't fall off before commencement is over, I think I'll be fine.