The Litany for the Class
Written by members of the Senior Class, the litany recalls both the distinct and shared experiences of the Class of 2005 and speaks of their common hopes.
Led by: Christina C. Alioto, James A. Byrnes, Shoshoni T. Caine, Jocelyn N. Davies, Rodrigo H. Dias, Adrienne E. Eaton, Kathryn H. Franich, Michelle Gomperts, Caitlin G. Hurley, Kristen E. Johnson, Timothy W. Larson, Sarah A. Lewis, Elliot B. Linsley, Sarah E. Overmyer, Matthew S. Pooley, Jason R. Rafferty, Sean D. Siff, Rachel E. Silver, Blake R. Wayman, Darcy L. York
Written by: Christina C. Alioto, Lawrence J. Handerhan, Caitlin G. Hurley, Sarah A. Lewis, Matthew S. Pooley
Today we take careful stock of the voyages we have taken. We recall the waves we have ridden, name the tides that have turned and continue to turn. As we remember, we confront where these changing tides have brought and continue to bring us. We feel more than just emotion, clutch more than just memory, and hold more than just ourselves. Our experience is rich with both the moments and movements alike that have molded us. We express gratitude too for those who have swum beside us, and remember those whom we have lost. The cycles of our four years have washed our lives as well as our world with change. It is in taking stock of this experience that we find the sense of place we have gained and the sense of purpose we carry.
We arrived that first fall in a whirlwind of exhilaration and anxiety. For some of us, our introduction to the Bates community was quick and easy. After a few moments of uncertainty and fear, we first-years settled into Bates — we made new friends, we fought with our roommates, we woke up for class, we did our own laundry. For others, our first semester at Bates was a difficult one, filled with initial setbacks, new challenges, and adjustment challenges. A time of discovery and personal growth, our first year at Bates was more than we ever expected.
In our first few days on campus, we ventured up Mount David, rejoiced at the number of cereals that Commons offered, faced the intimidation of our first college class, and saw the Twin Towers fall and our nation grieve. As the dust settled, we looked around and saw our community — our Bates community, our Lewiston community, our American community, our global community — begin to cope with a tremendous pain and the beginning of change. We enjoyed the same experiences that entering students always share: at the Student Activities Fair, we signed up for every listserv imaginable; we traveled with every other first-year in our center to Commons; we plunged headfirst into our reading — all in an effort to introduce ourselves to Bates, and find out how we could contribute to and collaborate with this community. As the days, weeks, and months rolled by at a breakneck pace, we spent our days eating curly fries in the Den and studying on the couches in the Pettengill atrium. And we found that as we introduced ourselves to Bates, we introduced ourselves to ourselves.
We returned to Bates as triumphant sophomores, and soon confirmed that our friends were our friends not only because we had lived with them as first-years. Whole nights were dedicated to ideological questions of the day: for some, this meant debating the merits of the Iraq War or the possibility of Bates’ first female president. Many tackled a timeless Bates quagmire: to go abroad, or not to go abroad? Still others: what happened to all the big bowls in Commons? At a lab in Carnegie, during the Band in Rand, or at Gene’s — in its last year in existence — we were challenged by decisions that were shaping the personalities we thought we had solidified years earlier. Whether we chose to brave another Maine winter to be a JA, wrote that controversial editorial in support of pre-emptive strikes, or stood up for our adopted community at the Many and One Rally, we bridged the gap between childhood and adulthood. Would this have been possible without Dean Reese’s informal office hours or Alice’s “Hello, dear” in Commons? Unlikely. As we celebrated the umpteenth 20th birthday, it was impossible not to feel that we were so old — or was it so young?
The onset of junior year presented us with opportunities for change and further growth in many ways, some welcome, some not. For those of us who stuck it out (perhaps foolishly) for a third consecutive Maine winter, discussion, debate, and reassessment permeated all facets of our identity as Batesies. The familiarity and immovability of our precious Commons, Frye Street houses, and makeshift Frisbee and Frolf fields were challenged by the beginning stages of a major facelift we have come to know and love as the “Master Plan,” capital “M,” capital “P”. With a swarm of changes to the look and feel of security on campus, our precious and personable pushpin door-props of freshman year took a permanent back seat to the magical brown boxes of the 21st century. Large-scale questions about the volume and vigor of off-campus parties, the tipping point of strained town-gown relations, and a run of sour press for Bates in prior years motivated us to rethink and reaffirm our strengths and voice as a community.
While our once-invincible freshman packs, the face of Bates, and the shape of the world at large all changed and shifted around us, we were also forced as individuals to find community and support amidst myriad personal transitions. While some friends and classmates conquered the world, the rest of us hunkered down and conquered the tense space between our next-door neighbors and ourselves, and new tides of friends emerged who would sustain us until we all re-gathered under the looming challenges of senior year.
Others of us traveled abroad to new heights and challenges. Do you remember the rush in your gut the day you completed a solo hike in the mountains of Sri Lanka, the moment you broke your language barrier and had a coherent conversation with a German local, your first opportunity to work with a women’s co-op in West Africa, or the day you saw America through the eyes of a Chilean fisherman?
Or what about the day you found your thesis topic on the crisis of diabetes in Samoa, the moment you committed to join a developing women’s soccer team in France, or the months you dreamed of dinners that consisted merely of cheap wine, cheese, and a 30-cent baguette? As juniors, we were courageous and ready for a challenge. Yet for many of us, we found that the challenge we were seeking had nothing to do with the country in which we had planned to be adventurous. In classrooms across the globe, we experienced the importance of listening, the significance of humility.
So far from the comforts of Maine, we faced this challenge. As returned Batesies, we have come to experience the power of our new world perspectives. They say a cat never falls on its back; it always lands upright, on all four feet. As Bobcats studying abroad, many of us can say instead that sometimes it isn’t about a solid landing, but rather the journey it takes to get there. Perhaps the times when we don’t land perfectly — those times when we are thrown off course and we must redefine our identities in the middle of a Ghanaian heat-wave or on a loud and crowded street in Vietnam. Perhaps it is times such as these that forced us to grow.
Senior year arrives. We return from disparate corners of the globe, summer jobs, internships, vacations, research, the places we call home when we aren’t here. Together for the first time since our sophomore year, we are launched into a strange place by senior year. We return with veteran enthusiasm for this last round, but also growing anxiousness about what lies ahead. Once the honeymoon of fresh chalk, crisp notebooks, exciting thesis ideas, and reunions with familiar faces fades, we realize that we are in a distinctly different kind of situation. Some of us may feel disconnected from our former roles and activities, some bring a rejuvenated focus and thrive. Senior year embodies a kind of poignant paradox: we move inward just as fast as we move outward. Our time is uniquely consumed with commitments both old and new: will the weekend hold interviews in Boston and D.C., sushi in the Old Port, or yet another bus ride to a far-flung NESCAC game?
One day, walking across the leafy Quad, ivory resume in one hand, black-bound thesis in the other, you suddenly wonder, when was the last time I was up Mount David? When did the friends with whom we spend the most time suddenly become George and Helen? We take inventory of our dreams. We reminisce over the basement laundry rooms where we took fledgling steps. So many tides have turned, and we have ridden their crest. Now Commons is filled with cell phones, LiveStrong bracelets, and talk of Thefacebook.com. Our planet faces monumental questions that will determine its ultimate future. Our experience at Bates, rich with 150 years of passion, brings us now to a place of gratitude and responsibility. As a wise person once wrote, “The task ahead of us is never so great as the power behind us.” We are here now because of this storied legacy: our roommates, professors, staff, administrators, dearest friends and family, for whom we are intensely thankful.
As we move out of these hallways of holistic learning, independent research, and nurturing support, we bring with us the power and grace of our varied challenges and experiences. The collective is defined by all, by each difference, by every one of our diverse selves. We emerge as global citizens in a time of changing tides. We bear a responsibility to engage the same commitment to community and justice that we have embraced here at Bates in the greater sphere of which we are a part. We bring the dearest of our values and soundest of our principles with us.