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.
The dining hall is one of my favorite places on campus. I remember the first meal on the evening of my arrival at Grinnell. The sheer size of the hall, the large number of dishes on offer, and the bustling atmosphere overwhelmed me so much, I barely managed to get myself a bowl of noodles before rushing to sit with my newly-found first-year friends.
Grinnell College is not a music school, and does not have a large music department. But someone forgot to tell the students.