Friday, June 24, 2016

In Deo Speramus

Today was colored with a mosaic of emotions.

On the Amtrak train from Boston to Providence, I felt the familiar coils of unease clutching my insides. What if I didn't like Brown? What if I couldn't stand the placement of the campus? What if I couldn't feel a connection and it all felt alien to me? How would I survive the next two weeks?  

As the girls and I awaited our information session and tour, the unease melted into background noise and I felt better about how much fun I was going to have. We were all having fun walking around Providence, laughing and conversing about whatever little thing came into focus. I was reminded that I am not alone, that I have a crew of other students participating in the same activities as me, and that there are undoubtedly other fun students I will meet through the Leadership Institute.

One particular moment from this day has stood out to me more than anything else: reading Brown University's motto. My cohort and I were walking from lunch to the campus for our info session and tour when I noticed a building bearing Brown's coat of arms and latin motto. I remember attempting to decipher it using what I knew in Spanish, figuring that it likely said, "In God we trust." When we finally arrived to the hotel later that day I looked up the English translation, which confirmed my exact beliefs.

Although I am aware this is entirely meaningless to anyone else, this moment carries a significance to me because I was reminded that the more knowledge one has, the more one can engage with the world. One spark of curiosity can ignite a blaze of newly acquired passion, which I have experienced in situations such as stumbling upon literature from the vast worlds of feminism and LGBT+ politics. Every scrap of information has allowed me to constantly mold my opinions and worldview in such a way that keeps me eternally analyzing everything I know.

I believe this is why Brown speaks to me on such a personal level. Learning how and why the world works the way it does in both social and biological senses is something I do not ever want to cease doing. My least favorite aspect of education has always been the emphasis on meeting all the requirements others have forced upon you without much regard for quality nor emotional satisfaction.

I want that to change.

With both unease and revived enthusiasm clouding my headspace, I walked with the group into what I later learned was Brown's biggest auditorium. The information session was led by two rising juniors who gave an excellent introduction to the systems within and the general atmosphere of Brown. I was surprised with the guest appearance of an admissions officer who explained in simple terms how applying to the university worked.

It was as if I was slowly, but surely, awaking from my apprehensive stupor. As the students illustrated the finer aspects of the school and their personal love for it, I remembered why I was initially attracted to Brown: it demands nothing but a genuine love for learning and a devotion to one's own dreams. In the middle of the tour of Brown's campus, I realized that I felt a strong attraction to both this university and Wellesley College because they possessed different traits that were all valuable to me. Wellesley had provided an open, tranquil, and collaborative atmosphere that serves as a steady foundation for learning. Brown presented me with freedom of choice and creativity essential to making education unceasingly captivating. 

I also realized that I did not mind the location of Brown's campus as much as I had anticipated prior to exploring Providence. It truly was, paradoxically, a quiet city, and seeing the dramatic increase in diversity compared to Boston and Wellesley was quite comforting. I must admit there was also much more nature around me than there ever has been in the urban regions of California.

It's amazing how much I've learned about myself in the last few days because of this trip. I haven't even begun the program I came here for!

When our first encounter with Brown had officially ended, the group walked to the Biltmore Hotel
and checked in. We spent some time winding down and resting our lower halves - we had done so much walking! Then, we had a delicious dinner at Luxe Burger Bar and celebrated Aimee's birthday a little early (it's really on Monday). For dessert, we had creme brulee, even though we had already ordered milkshakes to drink. In our defense, we have been traveling and walking around the entire day, so the treats were quite enjoyable. 

Tomorrow, the Brown cohort will go through orientation and officially move into our dorms. The trip thus far has felt like the passage of many milestones, and I know for a fact there are plenty more where that came from.
The view of Providence from the Biltmore Hotel.

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