Saturday, August 6, 2011

I call it, PC4934

By Marion Smallwood (Baltimore, MD)

1. The world: the earth or globe, a planet.
2. The world of ideas: all-you-can-eat classrooms, bright orange lanyards, late-night delirium and the infinite possibility of words - all placed within the potential of 21 high school students from across the country.

Allow me to minimize - New Jersey, Princeton University, Friend Center, where fingertips are furiously making the acquaintance of the keyboards in classroom 016. A deadline approaches with stealthy insistence. The 2011 Princeton Summer Journal is well on it's way to completion; the dedicated clamor of the country's brightest high school journalists lull the anxiety of the program's counselors. There are only two days left in this reality; soon I will be on a plane back to 1. The world: the earth or globe, a planet - where bright orange lanyards and thoughtful questions are lost to the routine of everyday life. But while I have the comfort of good company and blinking cursors, I'll reminisce on my experience these past eight days.

Work: This summer I found myself holding down a bit more responsibility. Greg, Katie, Adrian and I are the 'college folks' - in charge of gathering all the students academic and personal information and fitting it into a tidy, appealing package; a bow and tag to: college of my dreams printed neatly, but not yet ready for delivery. I heard so many amazing stories. Fears. Ambitions. Hardships. I saw some tears, some grateful smiles, a bit of frustration. I got to see the students as individuals, to flip through their chapters. It was wonderful and more work than I expected.

Food: Ugh. I have never eaten so much. I feel the constant need to have food in my mouth, the prodding ache of hunger present or not. SJP '11 intern Lily did a pretty hot job of providing the diverse group of students and counselors with a diverse selection of chow. Korean, Indian, Italian, Pizza, Hoagies - I even made sure to take full advantage of the dining hall meal sessions which were rich with root-beer floats and guacamole. I have cheese puffs in my cheeks as you read, I promise.

Sleep: I've learned to dream head to desk, that 7 a.m. heavy door knocks are no kryptonite for R.E.M and that walls and chairs are acceptable, sometimes welcome, substitutions for beds.

What's been most profound about this episode of SJP however, has been talking with and guiding the amazing batch of young journalists participating in the program. Their lives are going to change and they seem to already know it. I'm so honored to be a part of that change, to be a working influence in their growth and advancement into adulthood. I watched 21 people be born into a family, 22 including our all-star intern, Lily - what an experience!

As far as I can help it, I'll always be a curious wanderer in 2. the world of ideas: all-you-can-eat classrooms, bright orange lanyards, late-night delirium and the infinite possibility of words.

-- Smallwood is a 2007 alumna from the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program and a rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania.

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