Oberlin Blogs

What do we call me?

January 13, 2013

Chinwe Okona ’13

Disclaimer: I began writing this while at home, in the midst of the holidaze, so it's riddled with feelings and nonsense. Valid nonsense, but it's way-too-early-for-me-to-be-getting-this-emotional nonsense.

After a semester of silence, I suppose I'm back. Writing about senior year has felt near impossible; it's hard to believe it's actually all coming to a close. This time five years ago, I was prepping to travel to Washington, D.C., to visit a friend I had met on our MVP trip. Barack Obama was about to be inaugurated for the first time and neither of us had received our acceptance letters yet. In four days, I'll be heading back to D.C. to see this same friend, now one of the closest and most important people in my life. We'll be skipping Obama's inauguration this year, and together we're anxiously awaiting the day we get our diplomas.

While my friendships have always been of the upmost importance to me, this semester has caused me to think a lot about community. Coming from Oakland this summer and thinking about how we give and receive love from the people we care about, I felt very strongly about emulating the community I found, in the community I've spent most of my time existing in. Turns out, though it's completely possible and rewarding in a multitude of ways, community takes work. A lot of work.

One of my favorite classes this past semester was Black Popular Literature with Meredith Gadsy. In this class we explored what constitutes 'the black novel.' Are the authors of these stories foremost writers or are they first black? Are these books meant solely for black audiences? In which ways do the characters embody and challenge 'blackness'? Lots of air quotes required. In a nutshell, this class was dope. However, a large aspect of what made it so dope was our classroom dynamic. We were an interesting group; me, my three best friends, one of their roommates, other close pals, etc. While, for the most part, we were all pretty connected, just like in any classroom setting there were some folks you just didn't know. But it worked--our discussions were deep; we challenged each other.

Community in the classroom differs from the communities we build during our leisure time (lol, 'leisure time'). While we all sign up to take classes without consulting every other person on the rosters, our friend groups are (for the most part) organic. How we come to bond with and depend on other people, sometimes telling them our deepest secrets, is a mystery to me. What is it about a particular person, or even multiple people, that causes us to develop this trust? In four years, I've not only learned more about my adult self than I ever expected, I've revealed much of what constitutes my true personhood to those around me. Receiving acceptance from these folks, as a result of/in spite of my truth, has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my time here at Oberlin. And for that, I send a million thanks and so much gratitude to some really special people.

That being said, I'm beginning to feel like I've learned my share at Oberlin and I see myself being more and more ready to move on. I suppose deep down somewhere I really love it here and will miss it in some ways...but really, it's time. I recognize that not only will I be leaving, but many of the people that have shaped my experience here (for better and for much, much worse) will also be leaving, so the Oberlin I know and am familiar with will soon be a thing of the past. Many of us are going to gravitate to one of the various 'after Oberlin meccas' (New York, D.C., Chicago, the Bay Area, maybe Boston? etc.), but we will never all be in the same place again, like we have been for the past four years...so there's no time like the present to cherish what time we have left.

Well, I'm going to find a job first.

Then cherish every last moment.

Yeah, that sounds good.

Similar Blog Entries