An Excerpt from
by Erika Graham ’10
You call me to you, vast and powerful mind,
Minerva of France, immortal Emilie
I awake at your voice, I march to your insights,
In the footsteps of virtues and of the truth.
Emilie was a very unusual woman.
Before last summer, the only butterfly I could identify was a monarch, and the only prairie plant I knew was a coneflower. Thanks to an internship grant from the Center for Prairie Studies at Grinnell, I not only learned how to identify a multitude of butterflies and their favorite flowers, but I also spent last summer teaching kids in the Grinnell community to do the same.
Until I came to Grinnell, I had lived with my parents in Kansas City. Living in a dorm in the middle of rural Iowa has been quite a change for me. College was the first time I had to share a room and the first time I lived among my peers for any extended period. I was a bit nervous the day I moved in, knowing my living space would be drastically different from what I was used to. My floor would be my home for the next year. And what a home it has become!
Religious? Me? Absolutely not. As far as I was concerned, religion was at the center of many of the world’s problems. In general, I held a particular dislike toward religion — too many shoulds and musts and rules and strictures.
As an Indian, such views are frowned upon, since large parts of my culture place a great deal of importance on religion. Coming to Grinnell, I had hoped I’d be able to leave that ridiculousness behind altogether.
Directly in front of me as I sit in The Spencer Grill, four banners hang from the second- floor balcony. Eighteen feet tall and four feet wide, the banners are covered in pictures, hundreds of them. Volunteer students and staff hand-ironed the photos on with transfer paper, and the banners went up on Oct. 9. The next day, the student newspaper, the Scarlet & Black, published two articles describing the project. This is the end of the story.
“So what kind of dancing do you do?” my grandmother asked me when I visited her for lunch one day this past summer. “Swing,” I tell her again and then try to explain a little better. “Like Lindy Hop, or the Charleston.”
I remember coming home from school one February afternoon and rushing to the mailbox to check on college admission letters. When I found a big red envelope that read “Congratulations!” my mother and I screamed with joy.
My college search process was a long and hard one. It took awhile for me to know what I really wanted. As the deadline for college applications crept up, panic set in. I hadn’t yet felt a strong attraction to a particular school. In that rush, I applied to a mix of schools, hoping I’d get into at least one where I would be happy.
One of the first people I met when I came to Grinnell College as a student was my future friend Alyssa. As I hauled my huge bags out of the car, Alyssa approached me and my family with a big smile. “Hi! Welcome to Grinnell!” At first, I thought she was just volunteering to help first-year students move in, but later I found out she was my floor’s student adviser (SA). As my first year progressed, not only did I become close friends with Alyssa, but I also learned about the unique structure of residential life at Grinnell.