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This year marks 30 years since I graduated from Earlham College. I haven't been on campus since my 5th reunion, and there have been lots of changes in those intervening years. From what I can tell from the alumni magazine, they have been good changes. I haven't yet decided whether or not to go to the reunion. I have no doubt it would be good to catch up with former classmates. I'd love to walk the familiar paths and amble through the halls and spaces that stood firm while I got to know an emerging, autonomous self.
It was through Earlham that I first went to Scotland, another chapter of self-discovery. It was also at Earlham that I had the most exciting experience of learning: applying academic skills gleaned in the classroom out in the real world and discovering their relevancy. And there were plenty of other learnings. I remember the "aha!" of catching on to the fact that another person's behavior had more to do with them than with me. I had affirmed the belief that yielding to peer pressure wasn't worth the cost, and that whatever "friends" I might lose by standing firm in my convictions was more than compensated for through the friends I gained. I discovered the awe of the night sky through an astronomy class, memorized a poem in french (portions of which I still recall), and, I survived the terrifying thrill of remaining on a horse when it got stung by a bee, broke into a canter and took a jump in the riding ring.
Earlham gave me and my classmates the opportunity to test the known boundaries of who we were and to push those boundaries outward within a caring and supportive community. We were allowed to try and fail, and encouraged to spread our wings and take chances. I'm not sure how much of my academic education survived after I graduated and moved on to life's ongoing forum of post-graduate learning, but what I learned about myself and the complex world around me established a firm foundation for future growth and inner reward.
They were good years, and whether or not I attend my reunion my gratitude for the role that Earlham played in my life's formation runs deep and wide. The echoes of that learning reverberate in the the world that is today's classroom, and continue to shape the person I am becoming. For what it was then and continues to be for me now, I offer abundant thanks.