“Wait, you two weren’t friends before you came here?” We nod in agreement. “But you went to the same college…?” We nod. “But wait, you weren’t friends?”
Our peers are astonished that Sarah and I didn’t really know each other before entering Harvard Divinity School in the same cohort last fall (2013). I am a little incredulous too, reflecting upon what fast and close friends Sarah (K’10) and I (K’11) have become in the last eight months.
Yet the reactions of our Divinity School friends highlight one of the many benefits of graduating from a small college full of globetrotters: We are everywhere.
Leaving Kalamazoo College was a sad experience and one that I was not entirely prepared for. I had just spent four years making some of the best friends of my life, only for us to graduate and dissipate. The feeling I felt for months after college can best be described as mourning—mourning the experience, for the dynamics that would never coalesce in the same way ever again.
Yet, what I did not realize at that time was that, despite graduating and moving away from Kalamazoo, my K College experience was not over. I have lived in two different cities since graduating, and in each, I was pleasantly surprised to find K alumni. Instant connections, with Sarah and several others, have been made over sharing mutual friends, admiration for the same professors, values in social justice and cross-cultural understanding, and the same appreciation for the K College experience.
This is true not only for previously unknown alumni, but also for reconnecting with peers I have fallen out of touch with. Even in the age of Facebook, it is easy to lose track of what everyone is up to. Yet, when running into someone from K who I haven’t seen in years, Kalamazoo College becomes the nexus of conversation.
This year I volunteered for the Kalamazoo College admissions office by talking to perspective students for the class of 2018. Every time a student asked me about my deciding factor for choosing K, I replied, “the people.” While I may have been hooked by the “midwest nice,” the people are at the core of my K College experience. So it seems only fitting that seven years later and thousands of miles away from that fine Arcadian hill, the people continue to be at the heart of my experience.
The community and the friendships created at Kalamazoo College are special and unique, but unlike your college e-mail address, they don’t disappear after graduation. As much as I hesitate to say it, there is no phrase more apt to describe my post-K experience than, 4andForever.