Welcome to the “musical museum”  of the Lafayette College Concert Choir’s spring semester!

With the sudden closing of campus following Spring Break, we were thrust into finding alternative ways to assess students in choir, a graded class. 

It happened that the Concert Choir had an overarching theme of “Home” connecting our musical selections. “Home,” however, in this time of physical distancing and lockdown took on new meaning. How do you define “home”? This became our inquiry for a wide variety of creative projects submitted by our singers. It led to observations about belonging, family, people, hope, connection, and disconnection. 
We hope that you enjoy the creative efforts of these amazing Lafayette students. Their openness, generosity, and willingness to share has been an inspiration. Stay safe, stay well.
 
In song,
Dr. Joy Hirokawa.        

WHERE I’M FROM

“North” ~ Lafayette College Concert Choir

Directed by Dr. Joy Hirokawa; Accompanied by Patricia O’Connell

Video created by Tyler Abbott ’22

The Valley ~ Anonymous ’20

I was born in a valley–
Surrounded by mountains.
On a clear day, you can see them in every direction.
When I was small my valley felt safe.
With the mountains hugging close,
I was sure I would be happy.
And we would all be kind and safe and close,
Down in my valley,
Where the storms could not reach.

But the storms came,
Of course.

The wind howled and lightning struck,
Tornadoes rolled down into my valley,
And the people were not always kind.
I thought storms lived outside my valley,
But of course they live everywhere,
Even alongside each beautiful thing
That I had come to treasure
In my valley.

But if the storms reach everywhere,
Then so does the sun.
There is love in my valley,
And those to share it.
But the sun shines beyond the mountains, too.

When I was small my valley felt safe,
With the mountains hugging close.
Storms came, but I grew.
And the mountains shrank.
And my eyes wandered beyond.

I was born in a valley.
I grew strong in a valley.
But there are worlds to see
And lives to live
And friends to love
Beyond this valley.

Home is where the trees sing ~ Celine Lawrence ’20

The trees stand strong with branches long
Their leaves are filled with splendor
As winds blow by and play their song
Their lyrics stoke the tall defenderMoving, flying, drifting in the sky,
The tears fall low as the soul soars high
Little can calm this force inside
That causes fears to fall asideThough the body may leave this place
And despite the pain that lies ahead
The connection remains when we need its embrace
Our home is there to bring pleasure instead


My inspiration for this poem came from my own experiences with nature. I live in rural Pennsylvania, in an area surrounded by nature and wildlife, and I’ve come to associate home with trees and the winds that cause them to rustle. Ever since I was little, some of my favorite experiences at my home involved sitting outside or by an open window during a cool summer day. I loved the feeling of the wind on my face, and the sounds of the leaves rustling on the trees always calmed me down whenever I was feeling stressed or in need of relaxation. Though I’ve always enjoyed these moments, I didn’t realize how important the wind and these trees had become to my definition of home until I attended Lafayette. Though the campus had trees as well, it lacked the amount that I was accustom to, and with that decreased number of trees came a lack of that calming feeling that I felt whenever I was home. I found myself missing the quiet ambiance and relaxed atmosphere that came with living in a relatively remote rural area, and I craved the lines of trees that surrounded my house and swayed along with the wind on a daily basis. It took four years of living living away from my home to realize what home truly was to me. 

“I Like Jersey Best” (Arthur Topilow ’63)

Mary Cors ’19

“I Love You 3000” ~ Stella Dong ’20

I recorded me singing a pop song in a popular karaoke App in China. The song is called “I Love You 3000” and I recorded it because I think both the rhythm and the lyric are beautiful. I posted in that karaoke App because a lot of my friends in China utilize this App to sing, comment and social, also a lot of my family members have accounts on this platform. As an international student, I do not have enough chances to see my parents in person during the year. Also, my parents always hold their desire to call me because they worry that frequent video calls would disturb my daily schedules. Last time during the call, I heard from my mom that when dad misses me, he would love to log in that karaoke App and pick one of my songs to listen to. I was touched by this silent but grand love of his. Therefore, I decided to post more songs as long as I have time. Moreover, during such a global hard time, I would like to spread such positive attitude online to cheer up people whoever listens to it.

Bia Brait Amorosino ’22

I was born in Brazil and lived a large part of my life there. Over Spring Break, my parents, brother, and I went to visit my grandparents there. At that time, COVID-19 hadn’t peaked in Brazil yet, so we thought we’d be fine. My whole life, despite moving a few times, Brazil has always been home, because that’s where most of my family lives. So, it was nice to be with them, even though we had to end our trip early. I was sad to leave Brazil, but I returned to home #2 in Westchester, NY. And then there’s what I consider my third home, Lafayette College.

I stay with my grandparents in Brazil, so we don’t have our own house, but it’s still home. At school, we switch residence halls every year, but it’s still home. And in New York, my house is home. Over the years, I’ve learned to support the cheesy saying of “home is where your heart lives,” because moving around made me realize that a house isn’t necessarily a home. Personally, I think that “home” is what each person considers it to be.

To me, my friends and family are what make somewhere home. During quarantine, I’ve felt like I’m in a weird limbo of being both connected and disconnected to people. I can text, I can call, but I can’t leave the house, and that’s the worst part. I like hugging my friends and going out to dinner, and the fact that we can’t do that right now has left me very disconnected.

Home is cozy, home is comfortable, but quarantine has made home feel a little less like home.To me, this just shows that home sometimes also requires adapting, which is an important lesson I’ve learned over the past couple weeks.

“Time Boils the Rain/Shi Jian Zhu Yu” ~ Ruhao (Amy) Wen ’20

This is a Chinese song called “Time Boils the Rain, Shi Jian Zhu Yu,” focusing on time
and friendship. I sent it to my friend whom I really value. The theme of the song fits this moment as we are about to graduate. Moreover, I believe she knows this song as well; she can maybe even sing along while listening to my recording.

Meridith Guro ’17

I grew up being told that I’m never alone when I have a piano. When you know how to play, a piano is a friend for life.

“We Are Going to be Friends” ~ Laura Coates ’21

The Feeling of Home ~ Connor O’Neill ’22

Home has been an interesting topic in my life for the past few years due to the constant changes in my living spaces. For most of my life, I lived in one home, barely being away from it for more than a few days. That was upended during my freshman year of high school. Though I never planned or expected to go to a boarding school at any point in my life that was the situation I found myself in. I had really never lived away from home for that extended of a period and it took some getting used to. I was thrown into a completely new experience with not a single person I knew around me and it was frightening. Over time, however, my opinion changed. My next experience in the changing of my home was that during my time at boarding school my family moved out of my childhood home. The place I had spent my entire life prior was suddenly slipping away while I was gone. I went from having a comfortable place to return to every break to figuring out a new place, and a new way of living quite rapidly. But in time then as well, my opinion changed. Finally, after living at a school for four years of my life, I was suddenly set off into a whole new experience, college. Though of course, some things between college and boarding school were very similar, this too was a completely new experience. Navigating a new social life, dealing with much more intensive time management, and experiencing all of this while knowing no one prior is a very jarring experience. I was adrift in a new life experience as far away from any home as possible, and yet my opinion changed. All these experiences change my perception of what home was. As I was taken out of environments I would deem as home I was forced to confront a completely new fact. That home was never a physical place but a feeling one has about a place, an experience, and about people. When I went to boarding school, of course, I didn’t feel like I was at home at first, but over the course of my first year, and those four years I spent there, it became a home to me. My new home in Pennsylvania was also a not home to me at first but I have grown to find it one of the safest places I know. Lafayette was also not home to me at first but I wouldn’t trade my experience and my sense of home when I am there, for anything else in the world, especially now that I am separated from it. Home has become a feeling of comfort, fulfillment, and love to me and I never would have come to this realization without first having to leave my home. All of these experiences have taught me this lesson and now, wherever I end up in life, I know it will one day feel like home.


UNCERTAINTIES

My Place ~ Grace Emin ’21

I wrote a poem about my current home situation. I am not at all at my “home home.” I actually was visiting a friend in Florida during spring break and ended up having to stay here ever since. But, after being here for many weeks, I learned more about what it means for a place to be called home. To me, this place is now my home, for I feel like part of the family. Not that my family or home in PA is not, but I explained how the place you feel to be a part of the most can always change.The painting shows a female girl confused, with these thoughts or words by others coming in from behind her (revolving around the big question for her: home?) However, the thoughts and words that she gives out are her own, being a different color to represent the difference.

Original Composition ~ Brian Payne ’23

The Big Red House (Jacob Ulric ’23)

In the big red house there is warmth
To step into it is a breath of fresh air
When coming from the blistering cold
It creeps up your leg and enraptures your body
Filling you with a sense of comfort
Why would you ever leave the big red house?

In the big red house there is decor
Old fashioned, but in a way with charm
Something you would find in a dream
You sink into the couch’s cushions in bliss
With rooms around with with similar taste
Why would you ever leave the big red house?

In the big red house there are people
They welcome you with open arms
Having too found the warmth through the cold
You mingle about and talk of events and topics
That have been waiting to burst in your head for countless time
Why would you ever leave the big red house?

In the big red house there’s a party
The people dance around the floor
In a frenzied yet delightful fashion
You are in the middle of the floor switching partners around
The music silencing the blizzard visible from the window
Why would you ever leave the big red house?

In the big red house there is a fight
A misstep taken, a wrong phrase said
And two partners share fists and kicks
You see them out of the corner of your eye
But assume it is a newly created dance
Why would you ever leave the big red house?

In the big red house there is a brawl
The others see the fight, and confuse it for a dance
And in turn try it out themselves
Around you people are bloody and bruised
But keep going as to not ruin the fun
Why would you ever leave the big red house?

In the big red house there is a fire
A candle is knocked over in the brawl
Quickly spreading across the carpet onto the curtains
You feel the warmth become boiling hot
Burning your flesh as those around ignore the screams
You have to leave the big red house

In the big red house there is resistance
No one is allowed to go out once they enter
Or else risk letting the freezing blizzard in
You push through the hands and scornful faces
Reaching for the door as they try to drag you into the flames
You have left the big red house

Outside the big red house it is freezing
Memories of why you entered come flooding back
But on your shoulder you feel slight warmth
You were not the only one to leave before the door shut again
You walk away from the big red house together
As the blizzard slows down and the sun shines behind the clouds

Touch Base ~ Carlito Maca ’22

Sometimes my brain drips with blood,
Strenuously seeking the secrets of the universe,
My mind stands at the edge,
Terrible gusts of wind pushing me closer,
Contemplating the existence of Him.

In my imagination, I scream,
“It’s all so absurd!”
My voice echoing through the sheer, vast abyss,
Despite knowing what will be, I wait;
No response.

I tell people “I don’t know” to appease them,
But truth be told, I don’t think He does.
And so, what happens to the souls of the lost?
Are they simply lost to the abyss?
Will I be?

An eternity of darkness after death,
Never to feel, think, or love again,
How could we ever feel free under these shackles?
What does being free mean anymore?
Oh, what despair!

My friend Kierkegaard tells me,
At the edge, our anxiety is the dizziness of realizing our True freedom,
That the decision to jump is the test of our freedom.
He takes his leap of faith for the absurd, falling into the depths,
Is he right or is he just some insightful idiot?

I turn around and walk home for now.

On Transformative Experiences, Coronavirus, the Stoics and Sisyphus ~ Dominic Zhang ’21

. . . . . . .

Prologue

            Considering how one of my majors is philosophy, I hope the following piece of writing and especially the philosophical ideas it may contain won’t surprise you. It’s the kind of things I like to ponder over when I’m bored and/or procrastinating from doing other assignments. And now I get to write it out for an assignment? Yes, please.

. . . . . . .

            The current pandemic of coronavirus since its initial outbreak in January has shocked the world. Many people panic over the uncertainties of their futures due to the mercurial nature of the development of the virus. Living through an experience as dramatic as a global epidemic would be considered as having a “transformative experience” by some philosophers. Understanding the concept of transformative experience and thinking about how one might deal with such situations do offer some degree of solace and relief, and it has certainly helped me getting through it. In this essay, I will introduce and explain the notion of a transformative experience, then I will offer some historical (and somewhat existential) approaches that can be applied to the problem and how show how they reconcile with the pandemic.

            Philosopher L.A. Paul, who now works at Yale University, first proposed the idea of transformative experiences in her 2014 book, Transformative Experience. In it, she argues that there exist circumstances where one is unable to make a fully rational decision due to a situation’s potential transformative nature.  For instance, Paul claims that having a child and becoming a parent is a transformative experience. The act of having a child fundamentally changes one’s life regardless of prior research and preparations one might be able to do. One could talk to others who have had children in the past, or read up on all the medical journals the consequences of having children, but without one herself actually going through with the decision and having a child, she would never truly know what is it like to have a child and the potential it would have on her life individually. If the case above was not convincing enough, consider the following analogy. Suppose I have never tasted a pineapple before, and I want to know what does a pineapple taste like. I could talk to my friends who have tasted pineapples, some of them might say something along the line of “well, it just tastes like a pineapple!”, a more sophisticated answer could involve a comparison in taste with other citrus fruits that I may have tasted before. I could also do some scientific research, find the sugar content in a pineapple, or its acidity, or the concentration of different sort of vitamins. After all the research I can do on the taste of a pineapple, it is still very plausible to say that I don’t know the taste of a pineapple – until I’ve had a pineapple.  I would like to argue that, living through a particular pandemic like this one, is indeed a transformative experience.

            One might have lived through the SARS outbreak in 2002, and if you are a time traveler, you have perhaps experienced (and survived) the black plague in Europe in the 1300s. But none of those experience would be the same as this one. Due to the difference in global political climate, the status of the economy, or even governmental policies, it’s plausible to claim that one has never experienced something quite like this before. And such a pandemic will surely reshape many facets of world by the time it’s over. The education system has reshaped itself and is now completely virtual (over Zoom or Google Meet), the government policies are changing on a daily basis, and there are people out there preserving the economy (or at least what’s left of it). It will transform our individual lives, as well. I will probably become more of an expert in online learning and time management, I would probably also gain some weight due to the lack of exercise, and I might even pick up a life-changing hobby by the end of the quarantine. The coronavirus is thus surely a transformative experience.

            For Paul, she goes on and argues that it is impossible to make a fully rational decision when faced with transformative experiences. One must simply make decisions despite the lack of epistemic justifications for those decisions. If I want to have a child, and even if my friends are saying that they have benefited from having a child, I know nothing about what would come with my decision of having a child, and I might as well take a leap of faith and ultimately face the consequences, good or bad.

            So, what should we do? It’s an unprecedented time for everyone, and it’s not like we can just make the decision of not having this pandemic. We would have to live with it until the day that we have spread of the virus under control. I now propose that some philosophical theories do offer ideas that are relevant and applicable to our current situation and can, in fact, help us in navigating through this difficult time.

            Taking a brief survey of the history of philosophy, the stoics surely recognized the problem of the mercurial nature of one’s life first, as Roman philosopher Seneca puts it,  “never to trust prosperity, and always take full note of fortune’s habit of behaving just as she pleases, treating her as if she were actually going to do everything it is in her power to do”. The stoics, when faced with obstacles in life, would simply to accept the situation and get the best out of it. We cannot control our fate, Marcus Aurelius argues, “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”.  As a stoic, we would then simply find peace within ourselves amid the pandemic and do things that will better ourselves. Picking up a new hobby, utilize the time to enjoy the company of other family members that you may otherwise not have the time to be around, etc.

            Albert Camus, one of my favorite philosophers, is a 20th century French absurdist. In one of his earlier books, The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus takes a critical look at this Greek legend and offers what I consider as the best interpretation. If you are unfamiliar with the story, here’s an (extremely) brief overview: Sisyphus was a king infamous for his trickeries. He ended up cheating death twice — the second time tricking Hades and locking him in Sisyphus’s closet for many days. As a consequence of the absence of Hades, nobody could die and enter the underworld. So finally, Zeus notices the change and personally condemns Sisyphus to eternally roll a giant boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down once he reaches the summit.

How is any of this relevant to COVID-19 and transformative experiences? Well, Camus’s philosophy consists of recognizing the absurdity of life and trying to make sense of it. Looking at the myth of Sisyphus, Camus ultimately concludes that “the struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy”.  Then, with his philosophy, we may be imprisoned in our own homes, we must find the happiness within and enjoy this process as long as we can all stay safe and well. C’est la vie. I also accept the ultimate implications of Camus’s view – even if the worst possible outcome happens, we shall still accept gracefully and live through what life has to offer. But this may be a bit more extreme for many.

To Camus, we are rolling our own boulders up the hill everyday by trying our best to deal with the situation. There may not be much that we can personally do, but at least we know what the future may hold. One day, the pandemic will pass, and all will be well once again. In the face of this transformative experience, we must then follow the stoics and try our best to strive under the given circumstances and try our best to make rational decisions that will point us in the right direction.

The melancholy occupies my heart, but I am happy.

At Home ~ Kyle Falatko ’22


FAMILY

Anda Totoreanu ’15

I am doing alright, taking it day by day and trying to keep to a routine that keeps me busy. ​The one thing I miss during all of this is family and friends and human connection. Missing everyone in the alumni choir as well!​ Sending you three photos – the first is in ​my NYC apartment with my boyfriend James, who is my quarantine partner and makes me really happy. ​The second is ​my whole family in Florida out for dinner – anywhere I am with those special people is home.​ The third is ​me singing while my Dad and brother played guitar, which is usually how things work at my Dad’s house – we are always singing together. Hoping that we will all see each other again soon, and sending you all my love!

 

“You’ll Never Walk Alone” ~ Nicolette Sonmez ’20

This song has a lot of history between my mom and I. I first heard it when I was in chorus in eighth grade when we sang it. During this time, my family was going through difficult times due to the deteriorating health of my grandfather. I heard this song in chorus, and I thought it was sweet and powerful. I decided to write the lyrics on rainbow scrapbook paper and give it to my mom. Nine years later, I still find this song powerful and inspirational and decided to send it to my mom once again, letting her know even though times are tough once again, she’ll never walk alone.

Susan Bradlau

Thanks for reaching out to me with this project. I feel for the students who are missing their spring semester and activities, especially those who expected to be graduating. ​Home has become a refuge for George and I and we are so grateful to have access to space where we can still gather with out family, albeit outside and “socially distant”​.I don’t think we were doing the best job at 6 feet in this picture though. I hope that all is well with you! This is a very nice way to show solidarity among Lafayette choristers!!

Michelle Leonard ’20

I know that a lot of people are talking about how quarantine is forcing them to spend more time with family. This is the case for me as well, but I feel like this is particularly the case for me and my family. I live with my mom, dad, and twin sisters, who are seniors in high school. I would say before this that our relationship before this incident was about average. We checked in with one another on a regular basis and basically go along. However, like most people we did not spend an over whelming among of time with one another as life got in the way. However, when our great state of Pennsylvania went into lockdown, we started having to spend more and more time together. My mom tried to make the best of it by having us watch movies together. For the first two weeks of quarantine we spent each night watching a different movie together. At first it was kind of a drag but as my sisters and I got more and more bad news about our senior years ending prematurely, we bean to really relax into it. I watched dozens of movies with them and we talked about our thoughts on the movies which led to longer conversations about other random things. I am happy to report I have learned more about my sisters in the past month than I had in al the years we lived together before. I am happy to report I am writing this shortly after finishing dinner with my family. My side still hurts from laughing so hard at my sister Jennifer’s impersonation of Kim Kardashian. My sisters and I are still heartbroken over how our senior year turned out and we are nervous as to what the future holds but we know that we have each other and I hope when we put this behind us I will remain close with my family.

Laura Coates ’21

I think the biggest challenge of social distancing is my brother. He’s 21 and I thought we got along well, but oh my GOD is he such a slob. How do we always have spaghetti sauce on the wall? I thought we were supposed to outgrow that phase by now. Like I said, he’s 21 years old. We’re twins.Also, he’s so loud. I’m convinced he doesn’t sleep. He’s always practicing some monologue for an acting class… which he had last semester. I want to know why he insists on practicing at 3 am. I could’ve sworn he has classes too. At least I have the constant screaming in the background when I try to go to sleep. I can always count on him to scream his monologues too when I’m trying to attend class. Maybe I shouldn’t be so negative, at least he provides some consistency in these times.

Throw It Out the Window ~ Lindsay Altschuler ’20

I’m stuck right here, yes in this spot
I haven’t moved for days
So I decided to clean things out
And get my mother’s praise

I threw out half my closet
And it wasn’t hard to see
That I’m in fact a hoarder:
I found plates from Marquis

So I tossed four heaping piles
Out the window towards the road
And made a lovely mound of garbage
To be collected in one load

Then I saw my broken lamp
It hasn’t worked for years
Ergo it flew with wing-ed grace
Through the window towards its peers

Three hats, eight books, some moldy bread
Then made the next trip down
And they were quickly followed by
My confirmation gown

“I’m on a roll!” I told myself
“What else can fly the coop?”
Then my brother farted loud
Hence the scent of poop

So he was next to be chucked out
He flailed while falling free
Then my mother came upstairs
Strongly lacking jubilee

So she went next and then my dad
The house was all my own
I kept the cat, but otherwise
I’m blissfully alone

Caroline Schaeffer ’23

I based this little cartoon from the museum scene from the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” because my family loves the movie, and I replaced all of the people in the scene with the people in my family (from left to right: my dad, mom, brother Patrick, and dog Charlie). Also, the paintings in the background are significant: from left to right is my house, a picture I took in Yellowstone with my family, the color yellow (my favorite color), and turkey (my dog’s favorite food). There wasn’t much of a reason for using paint diluted in water on this picture, but I thought it would be interesting to see how it turned out!

Justin Bruce ’09

Home for me is always about the people. It’s the memories you make and the stories you tell as we all try to navigate life’s crazy adventure.

“Someone You Love” ~ Anastacia Negron ’23

I decided to sing “Someone You Loved” by Lewis Capaldi to my mom. Although we are both quarantined together and I sing a lot, I never really get the chance to sing to her. She always begs and begs to hear me sing this song, so I knew that recording this would cheer her up. My mom is one of the most important people in my life and everything I do is for her. She has sacrificed so much for me and I want to give that back to her.
Although the lyrics to this piece are talking about giving your all to someone and them leaving you, I know that will never be the case with my mom. I think this song shows resilience and strength, which can be used to describe my mother. My mom will always be my rock whether or not we are in the same household or millions of miles apart. When I showed her this piece, she had a huge smile on her face and asked me to send her the recording. I love seeing my mom this way and wouldn’t trade that for the world.


LOVE

Love Is Where the Heart Is ~ Nick Sama ’23

A place of love and family,
Somewhere I return to happily.
A haven from the storms of life,
To safeguard me from all my strife.

A place of boundless memory,
That we shared with plenty of company.
A sanctuary where I surpassed,
Some of the struggles from my past.

While it has been great growing up between these walls,
And running up and down these halls,
I’d like to set the record straight,
And start over with a clean slate.

I know it’s corny and said a lot,
But honestly what other way have I got,
Home is where the heart is, that’s my belief,
Even though the phrase is brief

Home isn’t just a mere location,
It’s found in moments of pure elation.
And in the arms of someone who does enough,
To get you through when times get rough.

It’s laughing about things long forgotten,
And apologizing for the arguments you got in.
It’s the spark we find in a reassuring touch,
The spark we know can mean so much.

It’s the love we find along the way,
Or the recollection of a single day.
It’s having someone to go to when everything’s wrong,
Who helps to make you feel more strong.

I know home may be different for you and I,
And my examples may be hard to buy,
I’ll state my case I believe it true,
So that I might just convince you too.

I think home can be boiled down,
Into a simple four-letter noun,
Home means love it’s clear to see,
I hope by now you agree with me.

The world could use a bit more love,
And a little less hate to speak of,
In order for us to improve on history’s tome,
I posit we make Earth one big home.

Bring Me Home ~ Cassie Warrener ’20

I am searching for you
I am somewhere in the light,
Yet my soul yearns to see you again
Hear you again
Feel you again
I am blinded, but feeling my way back to you
Memories flashing behind my eyes keep me moving forward
If you find me, follow me
Bring me home
Bring me home to you
 

 

 

 

 

“Can’t Help Falling in Love” ~ Cassie Warrener ’20

I’m actually going to send this to both my maternal aunt and my oldest brother. My oldest brother lives in Texas alone and all of our family is on the East coast. I know that he has a group of really good friends there, but not being able to see them in person can be hard. He is also taking classes online for another degree and is really busy with school and work and hasn’t been able to talk as much lately, which can also isolate someone.

My aunt is probably my closest relative outside of my immediate family. She is running our family restaurant (yes, still) and she loves talking and being with other people. She is the most extroverted person I know, so I can only imagine how hard this must be for her.

I wanted to let both of them know that I am still here for them and that I love them. It might be obvious that my 60-something aunt and my brother, who is half her age, might have different tastes in music. I was trying to find a song that they would both like. Can’t Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley ticks off the oldies box for my aunt. My brother habitually plays the piano, and this is one of the songs he plays a lot. While the song itself speaks of a different type of love, the message is still that love is uncontrollable and ever-present, exactly what I wanted to tell them.

In a Silver Garden with You ~ Carlito Maca ’22

In a silver garden with you,
Is where I imagined my dreams to come true.
Your radiant smile, the foreground of a lavish painting,
Background seeded with beaming tulips, daisies, and roses.
A tea party for two,
Terrible attempts to make you laugh,
Hoping that you’d take the jester before you;
You always did.
But alas, I’m bumbling,
A silver garden is a silver garden.
Dream never realized,
I continue my journey.

“Us the Duo” ~ Thalia Newman ’23

I recorded myself singing this song and I sent it to my friend Kate. Kate is someone who is like a younger sister to me, and in the past few years she’s undergone more hardships than any person should have to endure in their lifetime. Two years ago she battled cancer, and after that she struggled with serious mental health issues for some time. This past fall, her father was admitted to the hospital for serious brain surgery that came out of essentially nowhere. I have seen her at her best and at her worst, and despite everything she’s experienced she still manages to be bright, energetic, and excited about the future.

Two years ago, while she was going through cancer treatments, I recorded this song and posted it on my instagram. Kate loved it, and said it made her smile even though she was in such a dark place at that time. After a risky surgery, she was left comatose for a while, and her grandmother sat by her side communicating with me and keeping me updated. Just before they were going to pull the plug on her, her grandmother found my recording of this song on my instagram and played it. I was not there, but according to Kate, hearing that song helped her get through to the outside world, and it was what saved her life and helped her wake up.

Since this song has provided light in her life in the past, I wanted to re-record the song and send it to her during the hard time we are experiencing now. Hopefully it makes her smile now, as it did two years ago.


HOPE

“Lucky” ~ Ansh Mishra ’21

Dance to “North” ~ Amanda Crocker ’23

“The Rainbow Connection” ~ Katie Rice ’21

Olivia Lattanzi ’23

Lafayette’s community reading this year was called The Book of Delights by alumnus Ross Gay. All incoming freshmen are asked to read the community reading because it will be discussed during orientation and other members of our campus community are encouraged to read it as well. Although I cannot say that I fully appreciated the book at the time, there was something unmistakably interesting about the way the author viewed the world. It is hard for me to convey this viewpoint exactly, but he viewed even the smallest details of everyday life as striking. Even though the book did not provide in depth reflection and analysis of the random topics he talked about, the reader could tell the extent to which he was able to reflect upon and think about every part of his life. I will be the first to admit that I did not completely enjoy the book when reading it. I did not have an epiphany to “appreciate the little things” or “look for the good in everything,” but during this current time of social distancing, when all of us have a little more time alone with our thoughts, I have learned to appreciate his musings. There was no general point to the book because it was merely a collection of short thoughts and stories that ended just as quickly as they began. When I first thought about how I was going to approach this assignment, I kept struggling with finding a “big idea” or how I would have more than three sentences to write about any particular aspect of my time during “quarantine.” My inspiration came to me when I thought back to the style of his book and how all of the thoughts didn’t have to coherently fit together because it was the randomness of the collection that truly made the impact. Therefore, I decided to make a collection of quarantine thoughts and reflections.

Reflection 1: One of my most frequent thoughts during this time has been how I truly can’t believe that this is happening in my life time. In school, we would always learn about huge global and national events as elements of the past. However, this is one of the first monumental historical events that has happened in the lifetimes of current college students. Of course I realized that my age group was not immune to seeing major events like this, but that idea did not fully sink in until this happened.

Reflection 2: Because of quarantine, I have discovered that I love to do Zumba. I am someone who will try anything at least once and am typically fairly independent when it comes to trying something on my own. I could never get anyone to go to the classes with me at school and there were so many beginning of the school year activities that the classes got lost in the shuffle. Despite my willingness to try most things, the idea of going to anything workout related (which is way out of my comfort zone because I am not the most athletically inclined person) on my own terrified me, so I never went while I was at school. The offering of the classes online through Zoom gave me the unique opportunity to try them without the fear of embarrassment if I couldn’t keep up with everyone else. Over the past few weeks of going every Monday and Wednesday, I have gradually built up my strength and endurance. I can now keep up with the class for the most part and am so excited to have a new activity for when we get back to campus.

Reflection 3: Although there is never a good time to be unable to leave the house for months on end, the timing of this quarantine could not have worked out better for me. In high school, I had such a firm sense of who I was as well as my strengths and weaknesses. However, in college I started to lose that sense and gradually became less and less like myself. Coming into college, I knew that I wanted to be a government/law major because of its English base. I do not like to talk about myself too much, but English and writing were two things that I knew I was good at. I took a computer science class because I thought it would be interesting as well as a first-year seminar about brain computer interface technology/prosthetics. Soon I began to feel the pressures of going to a school with such an impressive engineering program and taking a gov/law class from a division that did not interest me. I got swept up in the idea of being a STEM major because everyone around me was. I started this semester taking intro to neuroscience, calculus 2 (despite only having a high school pre-calculus background), data structures and algorithms (a notably difficult class) and Spanish. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and because of random unforeseen circumstances and conflicts, I had dropped Spanish and neuroscience for one more chance at gov/law and econ (my original plan) by the end of the first two weeks of the semester. My computer science class proved to be just as difficult as it was rumored to be, and I had to withdraw from it. My lack of previous experience going into calculus 2 became quite evident. As someone who likes to see things through to completion, this was extremely hard for me but I am thankful that I was at home rather than in the high-pressure bubble of school to make that decision. Having the time to sit and think at home gave me the ability to view my future a little more clearly without the outside influence of those around me. Another blessing in disguise, aside from the clarity I needed, was the pass/fail option. I am so thankful that I have this for calculus so that my GPA will not suffer because I wanted to use my freshmen year to explore. After changing my major, minor, etc. a million times during these past few weeks at home, I am more at peace with my decision to leave STEM classes in the past and continue with gov/law and econ. Although I would give anything to be back at school at the moment, I will forever be thankful for the time I had at home to make these tough decisions.

Reflection 4: Similar to reflection 3, being at home has allowed me to connect to who I once was and what I once loved to do. Rarely do we ever get an opportunity to fully reevaluate our lives and get ourselves back on track quite like this. I was in a Zoom seminar where a Lafayette alumna talked to a group of about 20 of us about figuring out what we want to do with our lives. One of the students said something that really resonated with me as well as everyone else in the call. To be at Lafayette, we all had to work extremely hard academically as well as in other aspects to “set us apart” as applicants. He said that he recently realized during this time that the things he had once found enjoyable began to feel like something he had to do and he lost track of what he was truly enjoying and what he was doing to get ahead of the competition. He noted that everything he did at one time was enjoyable to him but that even now that he is in college, he has not been able to shake the subconscious feeling that everything you do should further you in some way instead of some things serving no other purpose than for enjoyment. The more I thought about this, the more I realized that it connected to my own life. During quarantine I have been playing piano more than I get to at school. In high school, I used to be the accompanist for our choir as well as play in the jazz band and be featured on an occasional piece in the wind ensemble. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of playing for these groups but these past few weeks have been the first time that I have been able to play for myself in years. I do not have a concert that I am preparing for, a group I need to play in time with, or an audition that I need to ace. For the first time in years, I can play without an agenda or without feeling the guilt that there is something else I should be practicing for. Another thing that I fully experienced for the first time in years is the feeling that made me fall in love with playing in the first place. The feeling of delving so completely into a piece of music that you lose track of time is a feeling that I have missed without knowing that it was missing. Another part of my identity that I was able to regain was my love of reading. When I was younger, I would always have a book in my hand and would often be reading at least four books at once. Over time, reading became work and something that I associated with the stresses of school. However, now that I have had time to sit down on (what seems to have been many) rainy days and read for my own enjoyment, I have reconnected with the part of myself that used to spend hours at a time reading book after book. Finally, if you haven’t noticed by now, the final activity that I forgot how much I loved is writing. During high school, journaling was one of the main ways that I coped with stress. I’ve never been one to enjoy creative writing but doing introspective writings (like this assignment) has always been my forte. Originally, this started as something that I had to do, but eventually, it turned into something I enjoyed adding to over time and found almost therapeutic. I apologize in advance if this turns out to be longer than you wanted because it has been such a helpful exercise to organize my thoughts.

Reflection 4: When I took the Myers-Briggs personality test I was always confused when I got ENFP. No matter how many times I took the test to be sure, I still got the same result. It is extremely surprising for me to have the E (meaning extrovert) because as a quiet person, I always thought of myself as more of an introvert. However, it wasn’t until not being around people that I realized how much of my energy I get from socialization. At this point of not physically being around people, it is amazing how the simplest Zoom call or text message conversation can replenish my energy.

Reflection 5: One of the most beautiful things that I have observed is how my community has come together at this time. I have plenty of issues and complaints with my hometown, but at the end of the day, I am extremely proud of where I come from. My favorite thing about my high school was always how we could pull together when it mattered most. Here is a list of a few lovely things that I have seen in my community during quarantine:

  • My school giving out free meals to students who need it (including enough to last them the weekend)
  • Local photographers doing free social distanced prom dress photo shoots for seniors and juniors that are missing prom
  • The faculty and administration putting together a video of each of them singing a little bit of our alma mater
  • Mini drive by parades for people’s birthdays
  • People so willingly making masks for others
  • Our high school talent show being online this year and students getting into it more than ever before

Reflection 6: Although I am physically further apart than I have ever been from people, I almost feel more connected to them than ever. Every interaction with my friends means so much more than it did before, and I have learned to fully appreciate their presence in my life. We have kept in contact by having virtual movies nights, FaceTime calls, virtual brunch, and sending cool songs that we have learned on the piano and new music that we have discovered to each other. The typical “social rules” of being too embarrassed to message someone out of the blue that you don’t know that well are essentially gone because everyone is craving human interaction. Because of quarantine, I have gotten the opportunity to connect with people that I otherwise would probably not have. In the past week alone I have reconnected with an old camp counselor, had a video chat with a bunch of the drama club alumni from my high school as well as our director, caught up with someone that I probably haven’t talked to since the fourth grade, and made a new friend that lived in my dorm that I never got to meet. This has really made me rethink the way I will approach social interactions moving forward and how much more open I will be to making new connections with people.

Reflection 7: I sincerely hope and feel that we will all come out of this as better people. There are very few times in life that we are granted with a pause button or that something unites nearly everyone on earth. So many of us have been granted the ability to pause and reflect without having to worry about how the world keeps moving around us while we are doing so. My grandmother passed away in January of this year, two weeks shy of her 93rd birthday. One of the things that my family used to joke about is how whenever we took her out somewhere, she was so amazed by everything she saw. She would always remark about how lush and green the trees looked, the incredible amounts of people at the mall, and how good the food was at holiday dinner. We always used to laugh because we never truly understood her. It wasn’t until I went on a walk around one of the lakes near my house with my mom that I truly saw things from my grandmother’s point of view. On the walk, I commented on how everything seemed especially green, how fresh the air was, how blue the sky was, and how serene the water looked. When I thought about everything I had been pointing out, I smiled to myself and told my mom that I sounded just like my grandmother used to. Because she did not get out of her house much, everything she saw when she did go out was that much more spectacular, and she appreciated it so much more than we did. It wasn’t until we were trapped in the house for a month and a half that we began to look at things with the same wonderment that she did, and the little things that I once took for granted, I appreciate so much more. The sky seems bluer on sunny days and rainy days seem so much more refreshing. Homework assignments for classes that used to seem so mundane now bring me joy because they provide me with a sense of normalcy. I even love going to classes (which I did not love 100% of the time at school) now because they provide me with the gift of human interaction that I have been missing. Interactions as simple as professors including smiley faces in their emails brighten my day. I can only hope that we take these lessons and come out of this with a little more gratitude and a lot more love.

Dolce Whitwell ’23


LAFAYETTE: A SECOND HOME

Jillian Andres ’16

I may have graduated in 2016, but when I think of Home, I will always think of Lafayette.

I wanted to attend Lafayette since I was ten years old and visited my cousin. I thought Kirby Hall of Civil Rights was the most beautiful building I had ever seen. Fast forward to 2012 when I became a Government & Law major and spent many hours in Kirby. It was at Lafayette where I learned how much school means to me. I have since gone on to Villanova University for a MA in political science and will be starting University of Maryland this Fall for my PhD in political science. Higher education feels like Home to me, and Lafayette helped me realize that.

Additionally, I have met some of my best friends and my fiancé at Lafayette. Being with the people I love makes me feel at Home, and so many of those people would not be in my life if it was not for attending Lafayette. I have always loved the quote “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” Harry Potter may have found friendship, confidence, and a sense of belonging at Hogwarts, and I found all those things at Lafayette.

Samantha Reibesell ’23

Jillian Updegraff ’22

Earlier this semester, when “Home” was added to our repertoire, I asked myself what the idea of home meant to me. For the entirety of February and much of March, this question sat in the back of my mind, collecting dust, as other academic demands ate up most of my free time. However, as the college announced the move to online learning and I was faced with the reality of leaving Lafayette’s campus and all of my friends, I returned to this question and finally developed an answer.

Home is not a geographic location. It’s not the four walls and a roof that make up a physical house. It’s not the address that comes on an envelope in the mail. Home, to me, is something much less exact. Home is characterized by the laughter that fills a room after a well-timed joke, the hugs that are given after a moment of joy or in a time of despair, and the smiles and greetings that you receive when you walk into a room. Most of all, home is characterized by the love and happiness you feel. These traits, along with many others, are what defines home – because home is not a place, it’s a person. In my case, however, it’s not just one person, it’s more than a dozen of my friends from Lafayette. Each person in this eclectic group brings humor, wisdom, and happiness to my life, and each of them has a special place in my heart.

When I think of home, my mind immediately becomes a movie screen that plays the memories that I have made with the friends I mentioned above. I remember Emma, Addison, and I rushing the field at the 2019 Lafayette-Lehigh game, cooking pancakes in Connor’s house on Parsons Street with Shannon, and all of the girls in the friend group cramming into my little car to drive to brunch on a Saturday morning this past February. However, it’s not just the special moments that I think of when I think of home. More often than not, I think of my mundane, everyday routine and find myself missing those moments more than special events. I think about Tuesday and Thursday lunches at Gilbert’s with Dani, Jess, and Emma, working in study room 23 in the library until 1 AM with Jess, Shannon, Corey, and Ben, and getting smoothies with Henry and Julia when we hang out in Rockwell. All of these memories and the people in them are the building blocks that combine to form “home” in my mind.

In addition to this paper, I have also crafted a video compilation of clips and photographs of the people that I referenced in this paper, as I wanted to provide a visual representation of the “movie screen of memories” that I described. The video is backed by the song “Coming Home” by Sheppard, which centers itself around the idea of “home” and eventually making your way back to the place that you call home. Two lines from the song stood out to me (although they are not in the video), as I feel like they represent why it is essential to hold onto the idea of “home” in difficult times, like what we are experiencing right now. The lyrics are as follows: ​But I won’t let distance get in between us, no // Oh, I’m coming home tonight.​ Even though all of my pieces of “home” are scattered across the country, hundreds of miles from Lafayette, I know that our friendship remains and that when we come home to Lafayette, we will be able to pick up where we left off, as if nothing ever happened.

Jenn Burkhart ’19

Sending you and the entire community all my love!!!!

“Home” ~ Amanda Carey ’20

When asked what song reminds me most of “home,” I immediately thought of Home from The Wiz. This song has stuck with me through the ages and oftentimes I can’t get through listening to the song without remembering cheerful times spent with friends and family. This song is dedicated to Lafayette, a place that I have been so grateful to call my home for the last 4 years, as well as my closest friends that have ended up becoming more like family. I could not imagine spending the last four years anywhere else and with anyone else.

Reflections on Lafayette ~ Caroline Sabin ’21

The transition to college wasn’t easy. It involved hauling a lot of things from Bed Bath & Beyond up three flights of stairs, not knowing if they would even be something I’d use. It involved introducing myself to someone I had never met, not knowing if she talked in her sleep or had any regard for cleanliness. It involved placing a lot of faith in this new place—Lafayette—not knowing if I would enjoy myself here.

And there were certainly plenty of times when I didn’t feel comfortable. When I didn’t feel like I belonged. When I lost sight of where I was going. When I wanted to run back into my mom’s arms and let her hold me until everything fixed itself. But I toughed it out. Through the nights where I sobbed quietly into my pillow because I didn’t want my roommate to wake up. Through the anxious fall semester where my brain liked to tell me I wasn’t enough, and that I didn’t belong here. Through the parties where I stood quietly in the corner because I just wanted to crawl under my covers and go to sleep. After all of that, I never thought that this place would feel like home. But by the time I left campus in March, not knowing if we would be back to finish out our spring semester, I realized that Lafayette has become my second home.

It is the people at Lafayette who make the space so special. It is the dorm custodian who wrote notes on our hallway mirror freshman year, telling us that we looked beautiful. It is the landscaper who waves to me with a bright jolly smile every time he motors past in his truck. It is the professors who bring their kids to class and who walk their dogs around campus. It is the workers at Gilberts who light up when you ask about their grandchildren. It is the people who dance with you, who sing with you, who make themselves a part of your life. It is the friends who you meet for lunch, who you holler at in passing, and who you exchange stories with at the end of the week. It is all of the choir members whose goofiness and smiles light up every rehearsal, and whose hugs make me feel like I belong here.

Now more than ever, I am missing my Lafayette home. I have poured my heart into different groups around campus, all of which fill me with music and joy every time I go to rehearsal. I miss the Mar-Keys and how we liked to jam out to random songs before rehearsal. I miss the Marquis Players and how passionate we were about putting on a great production of Footloose this spring. I miss in-person voice lessons, where I could sing my heart out without worrying about disrupting my family’s Zoom calls. Most of all, I miss our choir rehearsals and the beautiful music we made together. I am missing my Lafayette home and the people that made it so special.

With this in mind, I want to dedicate this reflection to the seniors. I am so thankful for your leadership, your passion, and your friendship. Your welcoming energy and your dedication to the things that you do are admirable. Remember that Lafayette is your home too. While our displacement from campus this spring is tough to swallow, know that your choir community will always be here to welcome you with open arms. Thank you for all that you have done to make Lafayette feel home.

to lafayette ~ Sydney Munn ’20

to lafayette

the home i discovered not long ago,
that greeted me from atop a hill and winding road

where, on october mornings the trees glowed orange
and branches waved kindly
as gusts swirled leaves up and around and over the walkway
layering the weathered and worn bricks with bright accents

here was a place for discovery and bliss and mischief and heartache
where friendships were formed and sealed with secrets
where we joined together one by one and claimed our corners of campus
laughing and whispering and yearning for warmer days and longer afternoons

and on that last day we wandered those worn and weathered bricks
and sought the places most sacred
as we gripped the keys of apartments we had called our own
and carved our names into that old beech tree

with eyes closed we tipped our heads towards the sun
longing to see the melting of winter and awakening of spring
longing for one last intoxicating dark night of dancing for hours arm in arm
mourning our day to stride campus flowers in hand, cap adorned, tassel turned

so we said goodbye to our home atop that hill and winding road,
the home that we had only discovered not long ago.

Lafayette College Alma Mater ~ Arthur Topilow ’63