Now that finals are over, I can finally collect my thoughts and write about graduation in the way it deserves. Every year after graduation, seniors have a table set up with food and drinks near all their friends so their professors and families can all mingle in a tradition known as garden party. I was a garden party girl for three of senior friends; meaning I was in charge of picking out a spot for them, picking up decorations beforehand, decorating the table, and grabbing food and drinks from dining services the day of the event. I “garden partied” for my friends Alia, Amelia, and Duong. All of them are international students from Southeast Asia, from The Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam respectively. Alia and I were in Indonesia together last summer, and our fellow Bryn Mawr intern Elizabeth was also one of Alia’s garden party girls. Amelia and Duong were my hellers; both living on my hall during my freshman year and staying my close friends ever since.
Two days before graduation, I waited in line for four hours to secure spots for the three of them. It was a pretty stressful event considering it was the day before all academic work was due and I had to collaborate with all of their friends and garden party girls but in the end, I got three nice spots near the sidewalk after a frantic run to grab tables and chairs while securing a spot. After finals were finished, I turned all of my attention to getting ready. I was lucky enough to get a ride to move all of my things to West Philly and to pick up decorations the day on the day of graduation (thanks Dawn!) and I spent the rest of the morning helping to decorate their spots with the help of the other garden party girls.
Unfortunately, our hard work went to waste. Halfway through commencement, it started to pour so I had to carry the tables and ruined decorations of my seniors from Erdman Green to the Cloisters, where a large tent was set up so Garden Party could still happen despite the rain. As I made what seemed like upwards of 20 trips in the rain without a jacket or umbrella with all of the other garden party girls, it made me realize just how much each and every one of us cared about the class of 2013 and we were soaked to the bone to prove it. This is our last gift to the seniors in a way, so they can come and relax and see everyone for the last time before heading their separate ways. The rain separated many people and ruined many elaborate decorations that were never even seen by the seniors but to me it served as a sort of metaphor. Life will throw many unexpected challenges your way and things may not go as you had hoped but it is the relationships you build within a community that will thrive despite the circumstances. We made the best of the rain and I was delighted to finally meet the families of my friends. Since many of them are from so far away, this was the first time many of their family members had been to Bryn Mawr, and for many, the United States.
After focusing so much on finals, moving, and setting up for garden party, it finally hit me that this was the last time I’d likely to see many of my senior friends as I was walking table to table. I’m going to miss the class of 2013 so much next year. They were my customspeople, my hellers, my friends, my mentors. I’ve learned so much from them and had so many meaningful experiences. I hope to make the new class of 2017’s experiences as great as the previous red class did for me. I know they’re off to change the world too. Here’s a snapshot of some of the things they’ll be doing next year (a special shout out to my own seniors: Duong, who will be an analyst for Chatham Financial in Kennett Square, PA, and Amelia, who will be getting her masters in geochemistry from the University of Tokyo!) I can’t wait to see what new adventures many of them are off and to see the incredible work they will be doing. It makes me nervous for my own post-graduation search but excited as well to finally step into the real world.
Luckily, I didn’t have to say good-bye just yet. Amelia and Alia took me and Elizabeth out to a delicious Italian restaurant in South Philly as a treat for setting everything up for Garden Party. It was a lot of fun getting to eat and talk with the families that had raised such passionate, intelligent, and caring women. It was the perfect way to end the school year and a stressful last two weeks. More to come on my summer, my internship, and reunion weekend for the next post.
Anassa kata and congratulations 2013!