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.
Next year, Swatties may be confused when they see several Na’vi students walking around in Sharples, the Science Center, and other buildings on campus. However, Swatties should have no fear; the Navi are not here to fight. Rather, they are just as eager and passionate as other Swatties in getting a liberal arts education.
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jym Boghk ’90, explained his reasoning for admitting these Na’vi students. “As the documentary Avatar demonstrated, the Navi people have historically experienced many hardships, ranging from eviction from their homes to continuous warfare against the RDA mining corporation,” he said. “By giving them this opportunity for education, we hope that they can then use their education as a means to achieve self-empowerment and social justice.”
Boghk further elaborates that the Na’vi admitted for Class of 2014 are definitely qualified for Swarthmore athletics and fit into the mold of the typical Swattie. Although they are much taller than human Swatties, Boghk is assured that they will fit into the Swattie lifestyle. Bock explains, “We are sure that the five Na’vi are well suited for Swarthmore; they are all intellectually stimulating and socially passionate. They can also bring in unique perspectives when looking at societal issues such as environmental sustainability, race politics, and cultural relativism.”
One Early Decision Na’vi student expresses his enthusiasm for his first year at Swarthmore. “I am interested in biology, particularly animal biology, because it offers a whole different spectrum of topics, research, and fascinating issues that we don’t have in my Pandora home,” he said.
He also remarked on his excitement to make friends with humans and become involved in extracurricular activities. He mentioned Earthlust as a group that he is definitely joining at Swarthmore. He explained, “The type of activism that Earthlust employs across campus is very inspirational and I would love to take their tactics and strategies back home with me to Pandora and fight for our environment.”
Indeed, the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility has anticipated increased interest in Pandora. Joy Barlton, Director of the Lang Center, said, “We are establishing several summer grants and programs in Pandora for Swatties, both Na’vi and humans, to work on issues of education, individual empowerment, and technology.”
Another admitted Na’vi student is still deciding between Swarthmore and other universities. She explains that she looking at both academic and athletic programs to make her decision. “I want to study Sociology/Anthropology and investigate the parallels of race and class in the United States and in Pandora,” she explained. She also wants to join the women’s soccer team as a striker, but expressed fear and anticipation in face of what her opponents might think of her. “I am afraid that my opponents will easily run away from me because of my height and stature, but I want to show everyone that I’m a normal scholar-athlete, just like them,” she said.
However, in midst of their fears, enthusiasm, and anticipation, we expect for the Na’vi students and human Swatties to get along together to make a cohesive community. As one Na’vi puts it, “I am eager to take this opportunity to show the world that Na’vi are not only passionate fighters for their homes, but also intellectuals genuinely interested in learning about our universe.” They may be ten-feet tall and blue, but they seem to be true Swatties at heart.