As a first-year student at Centre, I had the pleasure of taking Dr. Daniel Kirchner’s Humanities 110 course, which is required for all first-year students. Since the class consisted of a group of students attempting to navigate their first semester away from the comfort of family and friends, the class theme was Being at home in the world. We examined this theme with regards to literature, philosophy, and the fine arts in classical Greek and Roman civilization. For example, we traced Odysseus’s journey from home to war, and back. We dealt with the struggles of finding comfort in a new place amid the feelings of loss. We tried to define what made a place “home.” Individually and collectively, we examined what home meant to us.
That course made me come to terms with the significance of starting a new life in Danville. I had to examine myself as a member of this community and explore exactly what Centre meant to me.
Fast-forward a year and a semester later, and I found myself learning from Dr. Kirchner again, this time in Philosophy 140: Intro to Ethical Thinking. Near the end of the term, we began thinking about the impact that humans have on the future of the planet. While studying environmental ethicals with regards to human obligations, we discussed the newly coined term Solastalgia. That term describes a form of distress produced by environmental change when a person (or group of people) experiences substantial changes in their home environment. We began our discussion on solastalgia by examining the affects of coal mining, climate changes, and tree felling, but we soon turned our attention to how we can personally cope with changes in the world around us.
In that moment, I was reminded of the class theme that I liked so much just a year before: Being at home in the world.
To me, home is Centre. I wasn’t born in Danville, but I’ve gotten attached to everything about the place and there is a substantial change that I have to cope with once the school year ends. Centre has become a part of who I am. From morning runs on Main Street, chatting with College officials while working out, hearing the church bells mark the ending of each hour, reading on the lawn in front of the library, celebrating fellow Colonels both in and outside of the classroom, and taking on the ‘work hard, play hard’ culture, everything about Centre is special.
That’s why, once this school year reached its conclusion, I, along with hundreds of other Colonels, found summer to be bittersweet. I’ve done no scientific research on the topic, but a quick survey of various social media outlets will show Centre College students missing their friends, and their campus.
While we find our schoolwork to be hard and our extracurricular activities demanding, we also find joy in those late night Walmart or Speedway runs.
We lean back and enjoy those nights when we neglect our books and watch trains dance by. We chat with President and Mrs. Roush while waiting for Strawberry Milkshakes at the Everyday Cafe.
We let our short walks to the Campus Post Office turn our days from bad to good when we receive packages from loved ones back home.
We watch life pass us by as we sit on the steps of Old Centre around midnight, hoping to never forget what it is to be in the moment.
We whisper and laugh about friends that have Run the Flame.
We remember watching baseball in the Campus Center in September…and the subsequent consoling of Atlanta and Boston fans at 2am on a Friday morning. We laugh we thinking of the sleepless nights spent in the newspaper office or the Campus Center.
We revel in the excitement that is Centre Athletics. We smile when we think of President Roush leading the crowd in cheers as Centre Women’s Basketball participated in the NCAA Tournament.
Some will visit a restaurant that serves Mexican food and will long for a weekend trip to Guadalajara near campus, all for queso and the Danville Special. Many will pick up a backpack and wish that they were headed to study with friends in the Campus Center. Others will, as I did just yesterday, dig in a jacket pocket and find peppermint wrappers from Cowan Dining Commons, and will wonder what Ms.Sue–the mother-like figure that greets us as we enter in the dining commons each morning–is doing this summer.
All will long for home.