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The Midnight Flight of the Mattress Riders

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)


Beneath Grinnell’s academic veneer, there lies a secret world. In this world, shadowy figures converge by a signal known only to them, unleash weeks of pent-up glee, and vanish in the haze. It is a world we hear of in legend and rumor, a world that keeps its secrets.

Mischief is always best kept secret.

Many tales are told of revels conducted in the dark of night: roller chair races, steam tunnel spelunking, naked kite-flying. Among these, only one brings the giddy thrill of downhill motion to the academic sanctum of the Alumni Recitation Hall: mattress sledding.

The story goes as follows: when the stars align and the wind is right, and when the scent of 10-page papers lies on campus like a slab of rancid butter, a band of rogues assembles. With bravado as their only armor, they leave the dorms with a mattress hefted over their heads. They send out a silent call. In ARH, the fun begins. Moments later, young students chancing to leave the computer lab will be invited to experience delight in its purest form. They will be offered a seat at the top of the stairs, on a mattress going down.

The mattress descends only half a flight, but oh, what a flight it is. Alone or in tightly embracing knots of friends, silent or whooping with joy, the riders dive like falcons down the stairs and glide to a gentle stop in the hall below. The moment a rider dismounts, waiting arms grab the mattress and haul it again to the top, where the next rider will step on.

As with any legend, the revelation opens the door to deeper mystery. Who are these midnight riders? Do they not have homework? Are they the same who run naked in the fields, who roll in chairs down the tile halls of Noyce? Why a mattress, and not a sled or plastic tray? Can more than four safely ride? Perhaps one day the revels will be observed and recorded, and we will know for certain. But certainty brings control, and if the legends are true, the revels thrive on freedom. Perhaps it is best, then, that they remain cloaked in shadow, a mystery to be explored and explored again by each coming generation.

Adam Barrett '08 is an English major from Norman, Oklahoma.

Hot Fun in the Summertime

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)


I am the queen of playing things by ear. Plan ahead? No, thank you — I’d rather not. Of course, at times it’s necessary, but in most cases, I believe life is more enjoyable if I take each moment as it comes instead of worrying about the future.

However, I should be honest. It would be deceitful to claim that I play things by ear in a sheer effort to live in the present. Confession time — I often lack the ability to commit because I suffer from indecision. So, I offer this disclaimer: the following episode is rather common and not as painful as I may suggest. And so, we begin …

I can wait no longer. I have to make a decision. “It’s only three months,” I reassure myself. Yet I am not reassured. My mind and heart fight a fierce battle over a simple question: “Where will I spend the summer?”

Having returned from Argentina only days before, I am uncertain whether I can muster the strength to leave again so soon. But I can’t spend the summer at home. So I ponder my options and narrow my potential destinations to two. I can relocate to nearby Boulder, Colo., or settle back into the middle of somewhere — Grinnell, Iowa.

The next obvious step in the decision-making process seems straightforward, something I can handle even after my sabbatical from academia. However, as I begin methodically listing pros and cons, my mind quickly strays, and I slip into daydreams, indulging in memories of last June, July, and August …

After an unsuccessful job hunt in Colorado last May, I resigned myself to the fact that I was not destined to remain there. Disappointed, I looked outside the window of possibilities to which I’d originally confined myself. It was there I discovered an opportunity to venture into deeper waters, or in this case, into a sea of beautiful, rolling fields.

I called various restaurants in the Grinnell community, hastily packed my bags, and prepared myself for the 11-hour journey. Two days later I departed, grinning and wide-eyed. I felt childish, giddy, and a tidbit anxious. One might expect that after hours and hours driving through Eastern Colorado, across Nebraska, and into Iowa, my excitement would wane; however, on the contrary, my anticipation only grew as I approached my home away from home.

I had heard about “Grinnell summers,” but I wondered whether the tales could be true. Ice cream socials every Friday (perhaps heaven on earth for this ice cream fiend)? Community meals every Tuesday? Spontaneous dance parties anytime, anyplace? Biweekly vegan-coop potlucks? No overwhelming, burdensome stress weighing upon our shoulders, but rather a pleasant balance between work and play? This would indeed be a dramatic change from the Grinnell lifestyle I knew. I was skeptical.

I arrived in early evening, hesitating only a moment to take a deep breath before jumping out of the car and hurrying into Saints Rest. Rich aromas greeted me as I strolled into the quaint coffee shop, and knowingly, my sister, an employee there, glanced up and met my eyes. I had returned home. Welcoming smiles painted the streets, and I encountered friends and acquaintances everywhere I walked. I was starting to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the “Grinnell summer.”

As I settled in, slipping gently into summer, I found pleasant surprises everywhere. Tension and anxiety were practically nonexistent, people slept more regularly, and as a result, they seemed healthier and happier. Regardless of whether a student was doing research or working outside academia, he or she undoubtedly enjoyed more free time. So even though we were dispersed throughout town, we didn’t mind making a trek to visit a friend. On bike or on foot, any destination was accessible. Friends and acquaintances had more energy to sit and enjoy one another’s company, to throw together a delectable dinner, to discuss new ideas, and to reflect upon the last year. I delighted in picking raspberries, cooling off with a tasty Dari Barn treat at the end of a sweltering day, riding my bike on a warm, starry evening, running along firefly-lit fields, and watching the crops mature, gradually reaching up up up into the expansive blue sky. I discovered beauty everywhere I looked, in the landscape as well as in the interactions I shared with others.

My mind and heart are quiet, and a large smile replaces the furrow that earlier creased my brow. Hmmm. I inhale and exhale a deep breath. The sweet Colorado air lingers upon my lips, but the debate is over. I imagine the wind frolicking through the Iowa fields, calling me home with promises of another lovely Grinnell summer …

Meredith Groves '08 is an Anthropology major from Commerce, Colorado.

Having Due Fun with Fondue

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Issue:  Spring 2007

Author:  Elizabeth Bologna ’08

“There’s nothing to do!” It’s the mantra of young adults everywhere, the perennial complaint of high schoolers and college kids alike. It was something I was worried about when I was thinking of coming to Grinnell. It’s a small college in a small town … what if I was bored every weekend? What if the only thing there was to do was drink? I didn’t like the idea of that.

My mother laughed at my worries. “What do you do now? Go to the movies, hang out in coffee shops with your friends. Grinnell has movies and coffee shops, you’ll be fine.”

I wasn’t convinced. And even though the brochures listed all of the free concerts, dances, plays, and lectures, I remained skeptical. The thing I didn’t count on as a senior in high school was the people. It’s been said that the people who decide to come to Grinnell are a unique breed, that we’re all a little crazy in our own way. I don’t know if I’d go so far, but I will say that I’ve never met so many people who are so good at creating fun out of nothing.

Last year, a friend of mine was given a miniature fondue set for Christmas, and we thought we’d make a chocolate fondue. We bought chocolate and pretzels for dipping and sent out an e-mail letting people know where we were hanging out and that we’d have food. Having food is key to luring a college student anywhere.

We thought a few people would come, but we didn’t have very high hopes, because it was a Friday night, after all. Boy, were we surprised. Not only did people come, but they also brought good stuff for dipping in the fondue. We had kiwis, strawberries, bananas, and Nilla wafers. Eventually we ran out of chocolate and started melting chocolate chips my friend had stashed in her room.

It was an incredibly fun night, and not only because there was chocolate. We invited all our friends, so we ended up with a mixed bunch of people who hadn’t known each other before that night. My friend Danny ended up giving someone impromptu ballet lessons in the hallway. Leda and Emily got into a fencing match with the fondue forks (which were, I might add, only four inches long). A whole bunch of us played cards, using Life cereal instead of poker chips.

It was a great night, mostly because it was so spontaneous. We didn’t have anything planned except fondue, but the night took on a flavor all its own. So while concerts and movies are great, sometimes just hanging out can be even better.

Elizabeth Bologna '08 is an English and History major from Fairfield, Connecticut.


Once Upon a Time

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)


As soon as I learned to read, I was never without a book. Often the characters were just as real to me as my siblings. When my father took me and my cousins out on forced-march hikes to some middle-of-nowhere place in rural South Dakota, I invented elaborate families, lives, and conversations for these characters. Due to my wild imagination, my cousins dubbed me “that kid.”

Aside from my own imaginary stories, I remember sitting around the oak kitchen table at my home, listening to my father tell the story (for the 15th time) of how he climbed the Matterhorn in Switzerland as a 20-year-old college kid. His guide drank an entire bottle of wine on the way up. I can still hear my mother tell me about the boy she beat the tar out of in elementary school because he stole her jacks. Bedtime at my house was usually enforced — except when my Aunt Marge was over yakking about the latest drama at her vet clinic, or when my older brother Frank was home from his most recent crazy endeavor in the Marine Corps. When there were stories to be swapped, I was allowed to stay up as long as I wanted, listening.

Having been saturated with storytelling as a child, an English major seemed a logical choice for me at Grinnell. It would allow me to read and discuss stories while I did my homework. But I was happy to discover that stories weren’t relegated only to the academic sphere. Nowadays, I hear less about my father’s ability to blow smoke out his eyes and more about the friends I have made in the larger Grinnell community.

I met most of these people at a wonderful event called Community Meal, which takes place every Tuesday at Davis Elementary School. Sponsored by the chaplain’s office, along with community and student groups, the Community Meal brings people together to cook a free meal available to anyone who wants to come. Usually, about 100 people show up. Last week’s menu consisted of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, grilled cheese, assorted cookies, lemonade, and milk.

I would never call the skills I’ve acquired at Community Meal “culinary.” For while I am now able to chop many, many onions, open numerous cans of fruit cocktail, and make 12 boxes of Betty Crocker brownie mix, I spend most of the meal talking and listening to the stories people tell me about their lives. While we sit at folding lunch tables under bad fluorescent lighting, surrounded by colorful crayon artwork, I tell community members about the French exam I have on Friday and how I don’t think I will ever truly understand the subjunctive tense. In exchange, Dave will tell me stories about his time in Germany during World War II. Later, I will move to a different table and sit in on Erlene and Rose-Marie’s reoccurring and rather heated discussion about George Bush and Wal-Mart. Moving yet again, I will sit down next to a 95-year-old retired minister who sings me songs and tells me about his long-ago trips to Israel and Palestine.

As a result of these conversations, when I am sitting on the park bench in front of Wells Fargo or getting tea at Saints Rest, I feel less like a student from out of town and more like a part of the community at large. Grinnell, the school, is intense in many wonderful ways, and there is no point in denying that it can be stressful. That is the way of college. But it has been crucial to my perspective and my sanity to remember that a five- to seven-page paper pales in importance to a good story about someone’s life.

Sarah Boyer '08 is an English major from Rapid City, South Dakota.

Today’s the Day the College Kids Have their Picnic!

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)
Author:  Erin Sindewald ’08

It is a clear blue day, the flowers are in bloom, and the birds are chirping songs of grandeur. Smiling students of all races, genders, and socioeconomic levels are sprawled out on the lawn eating lunch, presumably loving life and everything around them. Scenes like these often adorn college admission brochures and used to make my high-school-self roll her eyes. These smiley lunch-eaters couldn’t possibly represent real  people, I thought. They must be the handiwork of some photographer trying to lure students in with a gimmicky hook that doesn’t truly represent the school in question.

But all skepticism aside, I am here to tell you that at Grinnell, such an experience is real, it’s anything but cheesy, and it’s called Grab and Go.*

Grab and Go is a meal replacement program that allows students to pick up a bagged lunch rather than make a trip to the dining hall. Students swipe their Pcards and in exchange receive a paper bag filled with an apple, chips, two cookies, a bag of carrots, and either a vegetarian or meat sandwich, depending on their dietary preferences. A fountain drink of one’s own choosing completes the ensemble. What happens from there depends on the student in question.

Many take their meal back to their dorm rooms or into the library to munch while they finish homework before class. This practice is a very legitimate use of the system, but others have different plans for lunch. As opposed to using Grab and Go as a means to increase homework efficiency, these students use it as a way to expand upon and enhance the lunching hour, a way to take the already social experience of the dining hall and enjoy it on their own terms.

Monday through Friday afternoons, weather permitting, I take my bagged lunch outdoors and gather with a group of friends on one of Grinnell’s many lawns. The sky really is beautiful. The grass feels nice beneath our bottoms. Depending on the day, the squirrels scamper, romp, or frolic. And there is a sense of satisfaction in escaping the fluorescent lights for a bit of natural sunlight.

In between bites of hummus, these real live lunch-eaters talk about interesting happenings from class (like the time my psychology prof’s dog threw up all over the floor during a demonstration of operant conditioning), discuss politics (which presidential candidate we support), plan weekend activities (checking out the local pumpkin farm), and relish the ones from the previous week (flying kites naked).

Once our tummies are full, we pass around the sections of the New York Times, catch up on current events, and share articles we find particularly amusing. And what’s really spiffy is how often people passing by stop to chat and even join us. There’s something about a picnic that inspires passersby to slow down and enjoy the afternoon.

Grab and Go picnics may not be all you can eat, but the company is all you could want, the scenery is all you can see, and the conversation is all you can imagine. Plus, outside the dining hall you have the freedom to shout, to roll around in the grass, to play bocce ball amongst the squirrels, and to collect pretty leaves to give to a friend later that day.

We’re probably not quite as photogenic as those folks you might see in college mailings — some of us have been wearing the same T-shirt for the past three days, others are bleary-eyed from a long night of paper-writing, and we don’t necessarily represent every single demographic breakdown. But we do come together on green lawns, under blue skies, for one hour each afternoon, to eat, to socialize, and to connect. We are beyond the viewbook. We are Grab and Go.

*Last year, Grab and Go’s format and menu changed in order to accommodate its move to the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center. Since the move, the program has been renamed Outtakes. Regardless of the name change, those old enough to remember the old format continue to adamantly call it Grab and Go.

Erin Sindewald '08 is an English major from Orland Park, Illinois.


Rollicking Roomies

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author:  Mona Ghadiri '11

Like every other eager Grinnellian, I had a countdown to the day I would get the chance to find out who my roommate would be for that exciting and scary unknown that is the first year of college. I had my doubts about living with a complete stranger, so I did what so many of us often do: I worried.

“What if we have absolutely nothing in common?” “What if she doesn’t like me?”

When the highly anticipated day finally arrived, I logged onto my computer and waited for Pioneerweb to load. Since I knew there were a couple hundred likeminded first-years trying to find out the same information, I worried that all the students on the server would crash the entire system. Luckily, the Internet was able to handle our enthusiasm, and I carefully followed the directions I had received via e-mail. Finally, I had it. Her name was Jessie (a fine name!). She was from a town not too far from me (how convenient!). We were going to live in Rose Hall (new dorm, sweet!). My final verdict: I was excited to meet my new roommate. In a traditionally curious fashion, we looked each other up on the popular social networking site known as Facebook. Technology is a fabulous thing, and we used the website to start messaging each other. We started with the basics: our families, our backgrounds, our favorite things, and then branched out from there. It was really interesting to learn more about Jessie before actually meeting her in person, and I felt this online communication helped quell some of our fears. Since we lived only 15 minutes apart, we decided to put our online chats on hold and meet in person.

After much discussion about whether coffee or tea would be best, we settled on apple cider and donuts from this great little place near my house. We met and chatted for about an hour. As it turned out, living close to each other gave us more common ground, and even though I worried our first meeting would be awkward, the conversation flowed easily. Topics like books and movies led to a philosophical discussion, and by the end of our first meeting, we had also agreed on the who-would-bring-what logistical stuff. Overall, the experience was quite painless and actually a lot of fun. I was relieved to feel comfortable with my roommate, even before we stepped on campus.

Jessie and I kept in touch online for the remainder of the summer, and when I actually got to campus, things just got better. Even though we are very different people, we get along great, and living together has been wonderful. We joke around and have periodic sing-alongs that our neighbors can probably hear from the opposite end of the hall. In our short time together, we have laughed over cookie dough, ranted (and raved) about professors, done homework together, and just mused about life in general. I really can’t imagine having a better first-year roommate.

Although it was helpful to meet Jessie over the summer, I know that even without our preemptive meeting, we would still have gotten along just fine.

Mona Ghadiri '11 is undeclared and from Long Grove, Illinois.


Self-Defining Self-Governance

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author:  Caitlin Carmody '08

Two years ago I led a small group discussion about self-governance during New Student Orientation. I tried my best to explain the fairly nebulous concept and did a passable job, but there was one persistently inquisitive first-year who just would not let the topic rest. All the other newcomers were squirming on the hard concrete floor because the hypnotist beckoned, and the NSO hypnotist is not to be missed (what better way to bond with your new friends than to see them do humiliating things?). However, this particular new student kept challenging me to further explain self-governance.

After several minutes of a shoddy comparison to John Locke’s social contract theory, I finally threw up my hands and said with exasperation, “It’s about community! Forget Locke. It’s just about living in a community.” He still didn’t seem satisfied, but self-governance can’t really be taught in the way he wanted to learn it. There can and should be dialogue about it. It can’t be reduced to a bullet-point list.

Back when I myself was a skeptical first-year hell-bent on damning The Man, I thought this self-governance thing was a bunch of hooey cooked up by the administration to make us behave ourselves. I thought it was some sort of reverse psychology thing: make the students believe they’re following the rules because they want to, and they’ll feel empowered and be obedient.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. The ideal of self-governance has become one of my favorite things about this school. Living in Grinnell, it’s always very clear that you live in a tiny, interdependent community. Self-governance means being cognizant of this fact, understanding that your actions affect the lives of others, and therefore taking appropriate actions in your day-to-day activities.

Self-governance means being honest and actively engaging in the community in which you live. It doesn’t mean doing whatever you want, nor does it connote the absence of any rules. I don’t think there can be any “upholding” or “adhering” to self-governance. It’s more of a philosophy and way of living that translates into your actions in everyday life, and that’s not something anyone can regulate.

You’re expected to clean up after yourself, and people will call you out on it if you don’t. You’re expected to own up to fines you generate, and are usually rewarded with reduced fines for your honesty. People take care of each other, drunk and sober. Classmates lend you books even if they don’t really know you. Instead of complaining to your roommate about the loud music down the hall, you ask your hallmate to turn it down. Instead of complaining to your hallmate about your roommate’s slovenly ways, you introduce your roommate to the wonder of Clorox Wipes. You’re expected to act like the adult that you are, but you’re not required to be perfect. It’s very liberating, sometimes annoying, and helps create an amazing community.

Earlier today my friend and I were walking across Mac Field when we encountered several abandoned tables in the middle of the big grassy field. A few of them were broken down the middle, looking very much like wounded soldiers forgotten in the Saturday night battlefield. We stopped suddenly in our tracks, perplexed by the carnage.

“Well, there’s the graveyard of self-governance,” my friend remarked cynically. Sometimes people like to talk about the death of self-governance, like it’s rolling in its grave somewhere whenever anyone vomits in a stairwell and doesn’t clean it up. Terrible extended analogies aside, I disagree with the proclamation of death. Self-governance is manifested in countless individual actions, both miniscule and large, some of which no one will ever be aware.

No college campus or community can exist in complete harmony. That being said, I do not suggest that Grinnell is a utopian society. What it is, though, is a group of interconnected, thoughtful, and passionate individuals. Stuff does happen, but we are generally a responsible bunch, and are treated as such. While I cannot define self-governance in a way that will please every new student who joins our ranks, I do hope that you can find a way to use the philosophy to create your own worthwhile Grinnell experience.

Caitlin Carmody '08 is a Political Science major from Grand Rapids, Michigan.


HIV Testing and Drag Shows

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author:  Lindsay Robinson ’09

As a first-year student, I dabbled in a little bit of everything. I went to half a dozen meetings every week and signed up to be on all the mailing lists. I was planning events with Concerned Black Students, Grinnell Multicultural Alliance, and the Stonewall Coalition. I was tutoring Sudanese refugees, sewing quilts, and working with the Office of Admission. I joined whatever happened to interest me, whether or not I really had the time for it.

This is a common problem for first-year Grinnellians. With so many organizations to join, it’s difficult to choose just one, or even a few, on which to focus our energies. Even with all of the opportunities to be active, sometimes there can still be something missing — as I discovered.

Luckily, it’s easy to start your own organization here. After attending two conferences on student leadership during my second semester, I was confident I could do just that. Last year, with the help of a group of friends, we re-founded an organization called Queer People of Color (QPOC). We resurrected it to bring focus to a community on campus that we thought needed more attention. We found immediate support.

That semester, we organized a successful panel on the intersection of race and homophobia during Pride Week. Students had a chance to publicly discuss their experiences and personal issues. We held an “Apples to Apples” study break and offered QPOC-themed prizes (Bessie Smith, Margaret Cho, and Bad Education CDs). The study break gave us all a chance to kick back and pretend we didn’t have 10-page papers to write for the next day. We also organized the National Day of Silence on campus, and more than 150 people participated. Students ate silent meals in the dining halls and gathered for a group scream at the end of the day. Afterward, we talked about why participating in Day of Silence was important to us, and we wrote our thoughts on a huge cloth that hangs in the Stonewall Resource Center today.

This year we’ve continued working toward visibility and awareness for various issues. During Coming Out Week, we held a bake night where we watched a film about being Asian American and queer. At one of our meetings, we showed a documentary on being Latino/a and queer. But our biggest event so far has been a “Drag Extravaganza,” organized with the Transgender Advocacy Group and Multicultural Manor (an on-campus project house). In the afternoon, people could learn the history and how-tos of drag at a workshop. That night we held a drag show where the performers collected tips as a fundraiser. With that money and donations from other organizations, we raised $300 to provide free HIV testing for students on campus during AIDS week. We don’t plan to slow down anytime soon. Currently in the works is the planning of the first annual Midwest QPOC conference.

I won’t pretend that leading an organization like this doesn’t take lots of time and energy, sometimes more than I have to give. But as stressed as I am in the days, weeks, and sometimes months leading up to an event, I love doing what I can to make things happen. Being part of this group has shown me there really are lots of opportunities at Grinnell to do the things you want to do. The resources are there, the support is there, and even though I have to sacrifice a lot of my sewing time and some of my naps, I am grateful that QPOC has been able to grow and provide a niche for me and for others.

Lindsay Robinson '09 is a Sociology major from St. Louis, Missouri.


We’ve Got Each Other—and That’s A Lot

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Author:  Erin Sindewald '08

As an oh-so-recent Grinnell grad who has oh-so-recently experienced the final ticks of my college clock, been handed a piece of paper of supposed symbolic significance that cannot adequately contain nor express the magnificent years that have so recently ended, and moved back home in hopes of finding myself/finding a job/finding a way, recently I’ve come to reflect on my time here at a Grinnell. In short: it’s been quite a ride.

Here I am, diploma in hand, nearly four years since the medallion ceremony in which I was told that my odds of marrying another Grinnellian were significantly higher than those of marrying my biggest celebrity crush (at the time, 1980s John Cusack); four years since I first ate breakfast in the dining hall with three guys from tutorial who later morphed into three of my closest friends; four years since I ran my first of many unseasonably warm runs with my cross country teammates along the rolling Iowan hillside.

It’s been almost four years since my first PEC shower, my first Grinnellian crush, my first of many Oreo cyclones from Dari Barn, my first bakery run, and my first day as a dining services employee when I accidentally dropped six cents into the cup of coffee that a professor had just purchased.

Over the past four years I’ve shopped at the local farmer’s market, eaten approximately 1,500 pounds of crispy fried tofu from Choung Garden (my all-time favorite meal on this planet — for serious), swung on the swings at Merrill Park, and watched a friend give a research presentation in Chinese even though I don’t speak Chinese. I’ve baked a lot of cookies, written a lot of papers, lounged on a lot of rooftops, and played a lot of Ani DiFranco on my iTunes.

During my time at Grinnell, I’ve worn rainbow suspenders, a maroon unitard, a unicorn hat, a rainbow beanie, and my fair share of gaudy spandex. At various parties I’ve rocked out to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” rocked out harder to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and found ways to make music deemed undanceable by many very danceable indeed.

As an Iowa resident, I’ve visited the bridges of Madison County, run the bases of the Field of Dreams field, sat in the world’s largest rocking chair, and used the bathroom at the world’s largest truck stop. As a study abroad participant I managed to contract dengue fever despite the safety my mosquito net and insect repellant theoretically provided.

As a Grinnell student I have flown kites naked as a study break during finals week, ridden dorm mattresses down the stairs in academic buildings, studied in the library without pants, participated in wheelie chair races in Noyce, explored an abandoned building in town, taken midnight bike rides off campus, taken a dip in the pond beyond the college president’s house in January, attempted to sit on every bench on campus (a work in progress), and engaged in silent dance parties outside of Burling.

And at the core of all these experiences, through every class attended, every test taken, and every paper researched, through every all-nighter and excursion to the dining hall, every concert, play, presentation, lecture, and sporting event, were some of the finest human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure of being acquainted with. I’m talking about the kindest, kookiest, most intelligent, most compassionate people I could ever have imagined into existence. People who have inspired me to be a better person, challenged some of my most steadfast opinions and beliefs, picked me up when I was down, and giggled incessantly with me every time a giggle was warranted (which was often).

I love the individuals who have made up my Grinnell experience, to quote whoever originally coined the phrase, “with the passion of a thousand fiery suns.”*

All of which won’t burn out for at least 5 billion years or so.

So as that oh-so-recent Grinnell grad who is both excited to approach a new world of untapped possibility and nostalgic for the community she’s leaving behind, I’d like to send out an invitation. If you’re kind and inquisitive, passionate and loving, open minded and open hearted, you might want to consider spending a few years at Grinnell. It just might be the ride you’re looking for.

*I most recently saw this expression used in a campus newspaper article written by John Guittar ’07 in September 2005, used, unsurprisingly, to express his love for Grinnell students. I feel it is appropriate to credit him here.

Erin Sindewald '08 is an English major from Orland Park, Illinois.

Un Feliz Año Nuevo en Guatemala

Fri, 2013-01-04 02:23 | By Anonymous (not verified)


Issue:  Spring 2008
Author:  Stephanie Rosenbaum ’08
As a travelin’ woman, I’m proud to say that I have never spent New Year’s Eve at home during my time in college. My first year, I spent time in Overland Park, Kan., with a friend from school, along with her friends from home. Second year, I was on a flight to Israel when the clock struck midnight. Third year, my high school friends and I watched the ball drop from Milwaukee, Wis.

Even with all these amazing experiences, I must say that my senior year New Year’s Eve was by far the most memorable. I mean, not everyone can say they watched fireworks from the beach in Guatemala.

My best friend, Camila Alarcon ’08, is from the beautiful Central American country of Guatemala. We’ve been friends since the end of our first year. Ever since we met, she has been on my case about coming to visit her during a break. I was finally able to save up enough to go this past winter break, and the trip was well worth the wait. I’m from a suburb of Chicago, and the day I left the weather in the Windy City was abysmal. I’m talking wind, sleet, and snow that even a postal worker wouldn’t tolerate. Arriving in warm, breezy Guatemala City was the perfect remedy for wintertime blues.

I spent two weeks with Camila and her family in Guatemala this winter break. Apart from the fantastic New Year’s on the beach, we did everything from tanning on the beach and watching the waves roll in off the Pacific Ocean, to climbing ancient Mayan ruins in Tikal, to exploring crypts in 17th-century cathedrals in Antigua. I ate traditional Guatemalan food (and would recommend the beans to anyone), fed crocodiles part of my breakfast, and danced in clubs in La Zona Vive. It was a perfect vacation. Her family and friends were so welcoming (and a bit impressed that I knew un poco de español), that I felt completely comfortable and at home. When it was time to leave, I didn’t want to go! It was a great opportunity to not only meet the family and friends of someone I had known for four years, but also to experience a culture and lifestyle completely different from anything I knew growing up in Glencoe, Ill.

That’s probably the best part about going to Grinnell. The students here are able to learn not only inside the classroom, but also from people they encounter in the dining hall, at the various parties around campus, and from the friends they make during their four years here. If I hadn’t gone to Grinnell, I never would have met so many diverse and amazing people and gotten the opportunity to learn so much and expand my worldview. It just goes to show that the people you meet can take you on adventures you never even imagined!

Stephanie Rosenbaum '08 is a Spanish major from Glencoe, Illinois.