It was something as simple as a reminder, but powerful enough to change my whole day. Chewonki is filled with moments like these, moments that may seem so small initially but when I am tucked into my warm cabin at night, remember the most. It was the third day in and my flow of outgoing emails to my eager parents had already begun. I was raving on about how happy I was and that I could already tell how special of a place this was. My Spanish teacher walked in and asked how I was, but not just how I was– how I really was. I basically recited my email saying how happy I was and how I felt so lucky to be here and that there were absolutely no complaints. I didn’t fool him. We sat there for a half and hour and he reminded me that it was okay not to be okay all the time. At a place like Chewonki where the energy is at a consistent high, it is sometimes hard to remember that it is okay to be sad sometimes and when we do feel sad, we are most likely not alone. He didn’t have to ask, and he most definitely did not have to stay, spending a half an hour of his own time off talking to me about my feelings, but he did. It seemed so crazy to me, in the beginning, how willing and able each and every faculty member here is to spend their time simply listening. But now, three weeks in, I am realizing that this is the norm here and that these simple moments add up to so much and have the power to change someone’s day.
Being three weeks in, we may all still be in the honeymoon phase, but I have a feeling the next 3 months will continue to bring the same laughter and tears that these first three weeks have. Between cleaning toilets with my advisor, stacking wood with my English teacher, and going polar plunging with my math teacher, I often sit back and think, “Where am I?” What perverse place am I in where teachers care so much about having a conversation that they are willing to stay and mop bathroom floors with me just to make sure a certain class went okay, or if my day went well? I know I can’t escape the teenage angst and woes forever, but it sure is blissfull, being able to hide from some of those superficial and petty anxieties that consume my days at home. I won’t always be able to get away with the grey-fits that seem to be fashioned here on a regular basis, and I cant expect my teachers at home to want to clean toilets or chop wood with me, but for the next three months I won’t let myself ever forget how lucky I am to get to immerse myself in this way of life that seems so impossible to follow at home. Here we are practicing the seemingly lost art of caring about something so much greater than ourselves. Caring about the world and the people around us who we may not be the best of friends with yet, but not ever forgetting to check in and care, which I think, will always mean so much more.
-Rose, Kingswood Oxford School, CT