Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What to look for in a college.

Largely, my favorite experiences at Saint Mike's are outside the classroom. More often than sitting at a desk, I'm outside with Wilderness or planning an event or debating with peers about that reading last night. 

For example last week I attended the Onion River Review open reading, which happens periodically as a forum to share writing, art and music. People often read their own work, but it's common that attendees will share the works of other writers and artists as well. Not only are the stories, poems and songs incredible, but the atmosphere fostered in this environment is engaging and intoxicating. I watched a friend do slam poetry (which I'd never seen her do before) and for the rest of the night couldn't get her words out of my head. Connecting, not networking, but connecting with people on another level (insert: spiritual, intellectual, etc.) is something from which I've benefited invaluably at Saint Mike's, and this is also how I've learned the most alongside of and outside of my classes.

Saint Mike's is also beautiful in the snow.
I had no idea what I was looking for in a school as a high school student, but something about Saint Mike's caught my attention. I couldn't articulate it 5 years ago but now I think I can. At Saint Mike's, I found a school where I dig people not for what they do or who they are, but how those two things align. Part of being genuine is practicing what one preaches (I think), and by and large the people I like at Saint Mike's do just that. I think that at least one theme transcends academic discipline (at any school), and that's the problem of 'where is the world going?' We face a formidable set of very embedded, very global issues that are not easy to fix, and it is easy to fall into bleakness because of that. There is a word in Finnish for having guts in the face of adversity, and from what I understand many Finns like to identify strongly with this word, sisu. My intention is not to offend by borrowing it here, but sisu is a quality that I admire, and it's one that I find frequently in the people that I connect with intellectually at Saint Mike's. This is a virtue that I think will be part of the 'global solution,' to speak vaguely, and I believe I picked Saint Mikes (not necessarily cognizant of this at the time) because I was drawn to this quality in the people that come here (as faculty, staff and students).

Sisu, I imagine, takes many forms in day-to-day life. I think one of those forms is sharing slam poetry at an open reading and going rock climbing or whitewater paddling for the first time, When we graduate and the world is ours to solve (if it's not already), and the people I've connected with will connect with others and share their sisu, just as many people are already doing the world over. The future is challenging but that doesn't mean we have to submit to the intimidation of the unknown. The people I know at Saint Mike's are unwilling to submit, and thank god I knew enough to see that, even if I couldn't say it, four and a half years ago when I decided to attend.

If I can pass along any advice about what to look for in a college, I recommend you look for sisu. If you don't want to go all the way to Finland, then you might end up at Saint Mikes.

Thanks for reading.

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