Oh, the Places You’ll Go
From Chile to Charlottesville, fourth-year reflects on community
It’s been a couple months since I’ve seen my parents, but this past weekend they came to visit me. They had just gotten back from Chile, where they had gone to visit my mom’s family and to get away — for them, the daily monotony of today’s America can become too much.
Chile has a different vibe to it. It has vibrant people who will greet you with a smile. They have “once,” their version of teatime, during which all the stores close and people go have tea and sandwiches. And most importantly, they have siesta — also known as naptime.
Life in Chile is so different, and that’s why my mom wants to move back there within the next couple of years. She has said she’s enjoyed her time here in the States, but now that I’m about to be done with school, there is nothing holding her back. She wants a new experience and a new beginning, and she knows that time has finally come. She needs to go home to a community.
For me, I know I’ve had one here all along. In the past four years, we’ve taken classes with each other. We’ve eaten crappy meals at Newcomb — or the Fresh Food Company, to be current. We’ve had three University presidents — sort of. We‘ve learned to Dougie, to Bernie and to womp. We’ve almost done it all.
Even when times have gotten tough, we’ve always weathered the storms — and I’m not referring to the ominous era of the aggressive fox. I am literally talking about the storms we’ve faced. We’ve dealt with the Snowpocalypse of our first year and that crazy microburst during Midsummers. Not to mention the time Hurricane Sandy gave us a four-day weekend. All fun — if wet — times to be sure.
We’ve remained strong through all this, turning the 3200-some random kids in the fourth-year class into a community. We’ve become a family that has each other’s backs.
When Thomas Jefferson founded this school, he had a vision. He would take young, bright students and shape and mold them into young men — young women would come later. He would make them better citizens, ones who would go out into the world and affect change, just as he himself had done.
Next year, we’ll be going to all corners of the world, taking what we’ve learned from our University and making an impact on others — be it as a teacher in Colorado, an investment banker in Hong Kong or a medical student who may one day find a cure to some pernicious disease.
In your new cities and homes, don’t be afraid to go out and make a fool of yourself. Take a chance on meeting new people. Go to your neighborhood single’s night. Experience that first bite of that authentic Chicago-style pizza in the Windy City itself. Laugh a little. Cry a little. Do it all.
Don’t take anything for granted, because life is fragile and unpredictable. Find a community of your own.
A good friend of mine always used to tell me about a certain poem, written by University student James Hay Jr. back in 1903. He would recite it to me, and it meant so much to me knowing that one day, I would be able to recite it myself. In a few short months, we will all finally be able to say, “then…remembering the purple shadows of the Lawn, the majesty of the colonnades and the dream of your youth, you may say in reverence and thankfulness: ‘I have worn the honors of Honor, I graduated from Virginia.’”
My mom has Chile, but I’ll always have U.Va.