For years I have been a huge fan of the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and in the winter of my first year at Oberlin the show ran a contest called “Ellen’s Bathroom Concert Series.” To enter, you had to send in a video of you and/or your friends singing in a bathroom. I was eager to enter the contest, but I didn’t know if I could get my friends to join me. I had only known these people for a couple of months, and I was not only asking them to dance and sing in a public place, but I was also potentially asking them to do it on national television (if we won).
I was pleasantly surprised when my request was met with a wave of enthusiasm. For about a week we schemed: we chose a song (Barry Manilow’s Copacabana), gathered costumes, and came up with a plan. Finally, on a Sunday afternoon, armed with costumes, a boom box, and a digital camera, four of my friends and I recorded a music video to Copacabana in the men’s bathroom in the lobby of South Hall.
The bonds you form with people at Oberlin really struck me then: my friends were willing to give up an hour of their Sunday afternoon and look stupid on television for me. It was also an incredible example of how Oberlin students never do anything half way. Even a silly television contest was carefully planned and efficiently executed. I guess our work paid off in some way, because a month later a clip of our video appeared in the runner-up montage on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
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