The semester is officially in full swing this week, complete with science field trips to Morse Mountain and a full-force work program today. Now that students have hit their stride and found a routine, they are beginning to settle into community life and reflect. While no place is perfect and communities are dynamic – always creating norms and then shaking them up again – many students find some breathing room at Chewonki to explore who they are, who they want to be, and how they fit into communities, both here and at home. Miranda shares some of her first impressions in the Semester 48 community.
A faculty member recently shared why she thought Chewonki was special, saying, “At Chewonki there is truly no judgement.” So far, I’ve found that to be true. As I began to write this post I was struck with a sudden nervousness, and as I realized that people from outside the community would be reading this post, it occurred to me that for the first time since I arrived, I felt I would be judged. Unlike the world wide web, when I share an opinion, thought or idea with the community here, there is always support and positivity – no one to declare that my thoughts aren’t worthy. By posting outside of this community, I’m putting myself out there for judgement. The fact that I’ve been able to go over a week without that fear crossing my mind is remarkable.
During our orientation week, the idea of a “clean slate” was a common theme. We all came here knowing that we could arrive on campus as completely different people from the ones that we are at home, and really “be ourselves.” When I arrived here I really did attempt to be myself, whether by sharing my opinion, not hiding my weird laugh, or leaving the cabin without makeup. That terrified me, of course. But from my own fear I learned that other people here were being themselves, and I had to accept them for that in the same way that I hoped to be accepted. I think that many other students feel similarly; they don’t want to judge others because they don’t want to be judged themselves. We’re all here to make friends and be friendly and welcoming.
Because we have this ability to come to Chewonki and live in a judgement-free community, we know each other astoundingly well. It didn’t take nearly as much time to develop friendships here as it may have at home because there were no false impressions to sort through; the way we presented ourselves to 41 other students was honest. I believe that this honest self-presentation is why we all became so close so quickly; without having to disguise your personality to be accepted, your friends become your friends because you can identify with each other.
– Miranda Mahmoud, Boston MA