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  Written by
  Seth Endo, AB'01

  Photography by
  Dan Dry

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Picture this
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Children's Crusader


Picture this
This 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.

PHOTO:  Seth Endo, AB'01

MY 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 life.

Midway 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.

No 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.

While 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.

More 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.

The 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.

One 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 to know.

My 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.

While 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.

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  JUNE 2001

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