spring the Magazine invited graduating fourth-years to enter its
future alumni essay contest on what they'll remember most about
the College. Seth
Endo, a Law, Letters & Society concentrator from Lawrenceville,
New Jersey, won $500-and a lifetime subscription to the Magazine-for
his essay about photographic memories.
FAMILY'S APPROACH to celebrating holidays is best
summed up in the words of my older sister, "I'll celebrate
anything that results in receiving presents." Although
at first glance this might not seem like particularly interesting
or relevant information for the introduction of an essay about
my four years at the University of Chicago, it explains how
a kid whose dad is Buddhist and whose mom is Jewish ended up
receiving an I-Zone camera for Christmas. This camera, which
takes small Polaroid photographs, helped capture the most significant
aspect of my College experience: the people who were, at the
least, part of the everyday scenery for two-elevenths of my
through fall quarter of first year, I mentioned how open everyone
seemed. My fellow students were willing to share their thoughts
on The Brothers Karamazov, differing ideological systems,
and which bars in Hyde Park weren't likely to card. A friend replied
that she thought it was because coming to the University of Chicago
provided a clean slate for many students, and this lack of shared
history made people comfortable. In the three years since, I've
thought a lot about this brief exchange, and I've come to conclude
that my friend was only partially right.
matter what your age or position, the University of Chicago provides
a great environment in which to grow and build upon one's history,
not an escape from one's past. Everything, from the requirement
that first-years live in the dormitories to the core curriculum,
helps create an atmosphere of camaraderie and community.
home for summer break before this-my last-year, I realized that
I had not taken any pictures of my friends at school. (Yes, I
know this realization was a long time in coming. I was very lucky
to be accepted by this fine institution.) The failure of the yearbook
(again) meant that I would have to take matters into my own hands.
I dusted off the camera my mom had given me for Christmas 1999
and grabbed a box of colored pencils and some blank note cards.
than 100 friends and acquaintances allowed me to take head shots,
which I attached to the note cards. Then these members of the
University of Chicago drew pictures and added some personal information.
economics major from South Dakota who is going to be working for
a big investment bank in New York drew himself in what looks to
be a straitjacket. The card of the COVA (Committee on the Visual
Arts) major from South Korea featured her signature bunny. The
longtime part-time student who is a deejay from Chicago adorned
his card with a simple black circle.
of the people who let me sleep on his floor when I was couch-surfing
through fall quarter copied the illustrations and text from the
back of the box of colored pencils. On the back of the card, this
classics major detailed the route that brought him from Colorado
to Chicago, including his stop at Hampshire College. A political-science
concentrator from Michigan patterned his card after a driver's
license. Another card featured Pierce Tower. A former quarterback
wrote, "UC Football rules!" The cards were as unique
and creative as the people at this school whom I have been privileged
University of Chicago experience included enjoying milkshakes
for only $1 on Wednesdays, chatting with Streetwise vendors in
front of the Med, listening to Professor Dipesh Chakrabarty in
Reading Cultures, exploring Chicago, and catching movies at Doc.
I even started a phony, and now defunct, RSO (Registered Student
Organization) with a small group of friends. We just wanted to
have some neat activity on our respective résumés
and to try to scam some money for pizza from the school.
these activities were fun, it was the people who made them into
meaningful memories. Although it is no substitute for the past
four years, my box of cards will help these recollections stay
vivid-and provide some small illustration of what my time at the
University was like.