“Good morning everyone! Breakfast is ready!” I hear a voice call from outside my tent at 6:30 a.m. The air is crisp and still on this early January morning in the Mojave National Preserve.
Into the desert
We are about three hours outside of Los Angeles, California, but we are the only people within 10 miles of our base camp. Jess Pelaez, the founder and CEO of Blueprint Earth, has been up for the past hour. She has been checking to make sure our Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and Thermo-Hygro-Anemometers — which are used to calculate wind speed, humidity and air volume — are fully charged for our eight-hour expedition into the desert.
As a child, spinning on an office chair at my dad’s desk, I discovered the power of digital technology. Playing “Myst” and other computer games transported me to another world: an awe-inspiring journey with nooks and crannies, ready to be explored.
As a visual learner, I also spent a lot of my childhood exploring museums and making art. Coupled with my interest in history and the humanities, I found the decision to attend a liberal arts college to be an easy one.
My Mount Holyoke journey began with a jolt: culture shock. Followed by waves and pangs: homesickness.
I endured a 22-hour flight — my first solo intercontinental journey — and arrived in a country that my Nigerian parents and I knew mainly from maps and news stories. Where I had no parents to move me into my first residence hall room or help me adjust to foods so radically different from what I’d eaten all my life. Where I soon met 2,200 strangers who would become the closest thing I had to family in this new land.
My journey wrapped up with emotions cut from a much different cloth — pride, appreciation, awe, excitement, connections — as fittingly symbolized by the College’s Stoling ceremony.
In a few days, I will walk across the stage of Gettell Amphitheater to receive my degree. Soon after, I will navigate life as a young alumna in Amman, Jordan. To think that for an unspecified amount of time I won’t be at Mount Holyoke, with its shimmering lakes and whispering trees and majestic buildings, is daunting.
In choosing to come to Mount Holyoke, I was expecting to encounter incredible experiences. I don’t think I ever anticipated such life-changing ones.
You know you’re a Mount Holyoke student when, as the spring semester nears to a close, you start getting excited for Pangynaskeia Day. By putting it on your calendar. Mentioning it on social media. Hoping for sunny skies and warm temps. Digging out a favorite lawn blanket. All perhaps to the initial puzzlement of those beyond the College’s gates.
“What’s … that? What do you mean? Where are you going?” asks your younger sibling or high school friend or parent.
“Oh, it’s just a spring thing!” you reply with a smile. That smile of knowing that at Mount Holyoke, a bevy of fascinating and slightly curious traditions continues with reckless abandon.