Dear Freshmen,

I didn’t intend to watch you, there where you stood in the wide tunnel hall, talking earnestly, animatedly, amongst each other.

I didn’t intend to see you, didn’t intend to stop where I was, didn’t intend to watch you. But I did.

I stood, momentarily, leaning against the wide corkboard behind me, posters, signs, event announcements crinkling beneath me as I watched, just for a moment.

You were three, there in the hallway. You’d arrived with the kind of quick ease of someone who has nowhere specific to go just then, but they’re going quickly, nonetheless. You left, too, moments later, after words, plans, intentions for the afternoon were exchanged briefly.

Maybe that’s part of what captivated me: the way you spoke of this place. I know you’re new; I know you set foot in your new room barely three weeks ago. I know this place is far from familiar, far from known- by you, at least.

But you spoke of the things of this school with ease, with familiarity. Your dialect held whispers of the words we use, and I eavesdropped, shamelessly.

I liked hearing you weave the lingo of this school- of locations and events and challenges and appointments- into your vocabulary. I watched, just to the side where you might not see me, as you spoke, moved, and then left.

I was captivated, you three, by your words, but there was something more, too, that kept me rooted to my spot. As I watched you, I saw the bravery, the eagerness, the kindness, in your faces. I saw it, and for a moment, I didn’t dare look away.

I’m leaving this school soon. This is my last semester; if I wanted to, I could count the weeks, the days, that I have living in these halls, walking the same tunnels in which I found you earlier. But I don’t want to count down. Of course, I’m excited- deeply enthusiastic, for what comes next: classrooms and student teaching, and maybe (hopefully) a job. Some days, I hold my breath, feel my chest tighten with the anticipation of it all.

But the price of going is that something is left behind, and I don’t eagerly await the day that I bid this wonderful school goodbye; I have loved this downtown academic center, have relished the time I’ve lived here, learned here.

But you three freshman- watching you, hearing you- gave me peace about leaving this school, about moving on to what comes next. I felt peace as I heard you, and even excitement, because the eagerness, the confidence, the openness and kindness that I saw in you, that is what I want for this school.

Of course, there’s a God much bigger than me who cares much more than me about this place, but you are what I envision comes next, you little tunnel trio.

You are the hearts that will grow, the minds that will learn, the feet that will go, the hands that will serve. You will be the body and the heart and the living, breathing soul of this school for the next four years. And that excites me.

Because I saw you and I heard you and I’m excited for you.

This school is a wonderful, challenging, unique place. Live it well, freshmen- I’m counting on you.

~Natalia

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