Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Dear Diary,

Thanksgiving has come and, hard to believe, is already gone again. It was great to go home and visit with my family, but it was also very strange to return home, which feels so much the same, and yet so different: home hasn’t changed, but I have. It is hard to imagine, but the three months since arriving at Swarthmore have made a difference in the person I am, and how I see the world.

It is exciting to see how I am becoming a more self-reliant adult, but it is also a little scary: the choices I make now have long-term impact in ways which was never really true before, and I have the freedom to choose almost any future I wish, not only to study whatever I like, but to become whatever sort of person I desire.

At the same time, though, I have noticed that some changes about who I am are not ones that I consciously chose, or perhaps even necessarily enjoy. I have become a person who can listen to stories of behavior that would make my mother faint, and not bat an eye: I even have begun to banter back! I don’t approve of what folks do, but I’ve come to treat it with a joke and let it be. Is that really something I should do?

On the other hand, I noticed when coming home that I am much less likely to be dogmatic in what I say (though whether I think it is a different matter!), and so have become much better at actually listening and trying to understand what others are really saying. No one is ever perfect, but this is a habit I rarely exhibited before coming to Swarthmore. There is good and bad in everything

Our family tradition is to after Thanksgiving dinner everyone go around and say one blessing in the past year for which we gives thanks to God. In that spirit, I decided this year, in addition to getting into any college at all, I wanted to give specific thanks for a few of the blessings of Swarthmore. Here are some of the things I remembered:

I am thankful to attend a school which stretches my abilities.

I am thankful for the great amount of financial aid Swarthmore has given to me.

I am thankful for the wonderful friends I have made here, who have gone beyond their own beliefs to listen to my very strange ideas.

I am thankful I can have civil discussions with most people here about our different perspectives.

I am thankful for the necessity to daily evaluate why I believe what I do.

I am thankful for exposure to people who really do care about the poor and the oppressed both locally and globally. In a place which could be only about self-fulfillment, this is a great blessing.

I am thankful for the many professors who teach, the administrators who organize, and the staff who maintain the school for us all. Especially workbox.

I am thankful for a beautiful environment to live and study.

I am thankful for the many fun extracurricular activities that Swarthmore affords: too many to ever do everything I want!

I am thankful for peace and prosperity which allows me the privilege of a college education..

For all of these things, Lord, I give you thanks. Amen.

O. Henry

The Phoenix

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