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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

My first experience face to face with Prescott College was meeting the incoming student who graciously stopped on his way from New Mexico to Prescott to pick me up. He waited in the Flagstaff Amtrak station parking lot for six hours before I arrived. The next morning, the very student who first called me during her admissions work-study came to my apartment and brought me to the grocery store, gave me a quick tour of campus, and generally helped me feel welcome. I really needed it; it’s really no easy task to move thousands of miles from home.
It’s effortless to make friends at Prescott. I arrived Saturday night, and even before arriving home I had a new friend. The next morning, another friend. The Monday after, two more friends, and so on and on. People here are from each corner of North America, and the college is so small and so specifically focused that everyone has two things in common, guaranteed: We’re all from out of town, and we all have been thinking about the deep, important problems facing our planet and society for years before we found our niche at Prescott. It’s not difficult to start a conversation here.

As academic and wilderness orientations coursed on, and as the semester began to accelerate, I was immersed in a coherent community. The administration has been consistently responsive and helpful, and the faculty and instructors I’ve studied with have been available, knowledgeable, passionate, and flexible. The relevance and currency of my History of Gender and Sexuality course with Kaitlin Noss was stunning. My perspectives have changed, and I feel a depth of understanding that I was unable even to imagine before.

Now, as I prepare to fly home between semesters, I know with a moral certainty that I have made the best educational decision I could have. The geographic diversity of my new friendships have given me a sense of belonging even in parts of the United States I’ve never been; I feel more connected to the vastness of America than ever before. I’ll be going home to my family and old friends with a stronger identity, and lots of exciting new things to discuss.

The end of the semester is bittersweet for me, as I imagine it is for many of us students. Over the last couple of months, Prescott has become my home, and I’m comfortable here now. But, it will be truly excellent to have a break and to see my family again. Three friends and I will be taking a 2700-mile road trip back to Prescott in January, and this has to be the raspberry garnish on my Bûche de Noël.

-Estin Vogel, 12.15.11

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