International Friday: Unexpected Friendships
Freshman Friends: Elizabeth North’21
Me and Fernando, he transferred but he was my most unexpected friend!
Gosha and Me: Maria Elvira Lopez’21
This is my friend Gosha and me wearing matching raincoats. I meet him in the student dormitory where I lived during my study abroad in Moscow. He taught me how to skate board and helped me practice my Russian language.
Grandma Book Club: Maria Scarpaci, Student Excellence and Leadership
I moved to Memphis, TN after grad school to lead a first grade classroom through Teach For America. I had a hard time adjusting to the rigorous schedule and one person decided to take me under her wing. This is a picture of a book club she asked me to join, I only refer to it as my Grandma Book Club because I was the youngest member by 30 years. These gatherings were extremely important to these women and their name for it illustrates why…The Common Ground Book Club. Ms. Shipp decided to make me part of her family and I am forever grateful for her kindness and hours of life advice.
Soccer Buddies: Melinda Balades ’21
My sophomore year soccer buddy and her unexpected friend for the day!
Jake and Remy: Lisa Lichtman
Here are photos of my parents’ dog, Jake, and a rat of mine at the time, Remy. They got along and used to socialize. Remy had an English bulldog friend too, who used to always come and visit him when we frequently brought our pets to work. Jake liked everyone, no matter the species!
Friendships across Generations: Elizabeth Brewer, International Education
“Martin and I share a love of adventure as well as relaxation over small repasts with tea. Now married with a young daughter, he and I went on many an excursion during the year I lived in his home town in Slovakia. Our modus operandi was to check the train and bus schedules when we arrived at the station, then choose a place we’d never been to. What great fun that was! I recommend it highly.”
Friends by Chance: Kendra Grogan ’21
Deer and Strangers in Nara, Japan: Nick Mischler’14, Communications and Marketing
During my time in Japan in 2012-2013, I heard of a small group of Japanese friends who planned day trips that were open to anyone, and exchange students in particular. I signed up for a trip to Nara to attend “Ochamori”, an annual tea ceremony where attendees use a large bowl rather than small cups.
Despite the impression I had at the university of these being a somewhat popular thing with my cohort, I was the only non-Japanese person in attendance that day. Nevertheless, we spent the day participating in the unique tea ceremony, exploring the temples throughout Nara, and sharing both lunch and dinner. I learned a fun little phrase—「意味ないじゃん」”imi-nai-jan”, a somewhat childish way of saying “what does it matter?”— and we all got to meet with the deer that roam around the temple grounds.
What I remember most about that day occurred during our dinner in a small café overlooking the city. In a conversation of mixed English and Japanese, the three people I had spent the day with were asking me a multitude of questions: “Have anyone you like?” “What is it like being an American?” etc.
At some point, either there or on the train back home, I realized that I had an easier time opening up to these “strangers” than I had with anyone I regularly interacted with in the previous six months. There’s a certain comfort, I mused, in opening up to people you think you may not see again.
Or, with about eight years hindsight, perhaps the real lesson was that opening up and making friends is far easier than we may think it is or has to be.