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A Goodman Is Hard to Find: Adjusting Focus

Published: January 26, 2012
Section: Opinions


Last weekend was different.

It wasn’t different because of the snow, which doesn’t seem to happen anymore, and it wasn’t because it was the first weekend back from vacation. It was different because my friend from home came to visit. Upon her visit I began to reflect upon who I am today compared to who I was before college, back at home. I also thought about Brandeis, its values, place and community.

I came to Brandeis excited and eager to break away from my family, community and childhood attachments. And that’s what I did—I do feel that I am completely separated from my home, family and any kind of life I used to have before coming to college. It goes without saying that the physical location does in fact put me very far from home, as I am from California. Being here in Waltham, on my own—or at least more so than I was in high school—I feel responsible, empowered, and most of all free.

Free to be whomever, do whatever and not feel any pressure or burden to commit to who I was or what I was doing before. Coming to Brandeis was just as I had hoped, it was a new beginning, a fresh start to do what I wanted and continue in developing into the person I hope to become.

Back to the story—my friend came to visit me last weekend from school in Amherst, Mass. We had kept in touch and continued to see each other during school breaks, mostly because we did have the potential of seeing each other on the East Coast at school, but all in all I would consider her a good friend.

This was the first time anyone from my high school had seen me at college. I had to explain everything to her, as I would have to do with anyone visiting. I showed her my sweet pad in East, The Rose and the normal Brandeis landmarks like Sherman on a Saturday morning. She spent the weekend with me and my friends doing everything we do together.

With her watching and engaging in my usual activities and interactions, I began to see Brandeis from the perspective of a non-Brandeis student. Even though she attends another very small liberal-arts school on the East Coast, she noticed things and asked questions that I had never really pondered before. Through her questions and observations I started to think differently about Brandeis.

Although this community is somewhat privileged, with easily accessible resources, available classes, and a large student activities budget, I believe that the people here truly care about others, the environment and the greater good of people around the world. I know that deviations do exist. There are people here who unfortunately don’t acknowledge the poverty, pain and suffering around the world, within our country and within our community. But I know that the majority of students here have a wide perspective beyond themselves and where they are here and now, and are aware of things outside of our small community, no matter how isolated and altered this campus-wide bubble may feel. How else could there be more than 270 clubs on campus, a majority of students with multiple majors and minors, and the Waltham Group acting as the largest student organization on campus, if there weren’t people here who feel they can make a difference and do matter?

I think as students here at Brandeis we forget to take a moment to acknowledge where we are and the type of people with whom we are surrounded. We have all deliberately chosen to live in this intentional community together. And together we can continue to make this the awesome place we are proud to show to our visiting friends, supporting family and the world.