Friday, August 10, 2012

Special collections

By Fonzy Toro (SJP 2010)

I’ve always had an interest in collections. Every piece in a collection contributes its own story and it holds a special value. The thought of having a whole collection was appealing because I was able to see the entire picture- with no missing puzzle pieces.

When I was four, my cousin told me that he was going to start a US state quarter collection. That afternoon I went to my mom so that I could check her purse and start a collection of my own. I wanted to be like him (let it be known that he stopped his collection at the fourth quarter once the ice cream truck came along and I obsessively finished in 2009 when the final state quarters were made)

At five years old, I grew an obsession with McDonalds toys. Every Friday, I would tell my dad to take me to the nearest McDonalds after he received his paycheck so that I could complete my collection of these plastic pieces of joy. The excitement I would feel when opening a happy meal box has no comparison. When I would get a toy I already had, well, lets just say I wasn’t a happy kid.

Yesterday as I stared at one of my peers’ navy blue Princeton Summer Journalism Program shirt, I realized that the beauty of a collection does not lie in the completion of the collection. Sure, the feeling of success one receives at the end of a collection is wonderful, but it only lasts a few days. Yes collections are nice to look at, but this excitement ends as soon as the last puzzle piece is connected. I have always been so caught up with the final full collection, that I did not realize that I found most joy in the quests.

As I saw this year’s shirt, I remembered my red PSJP shirt form 2010. I recalled how this shirt was now a bit more faded; it was bit smaller and more worn out. As I saw my new navy blue shirt, I could not help but notice that this shirt was now decorated with a series of memories that will follow. Every wear, every tear, and every smudge reveal another story. This shirt will carry the legacy of the SJP class of 2012 with me.

Seeing these familiar yet complete stranger’s faces that first day of SJP reminded me of those exciting feelings I felt when I arrived on the Princeton campus as a student. I remembered the first encounter I had with an amazing and diverse group of people. I remembered those summer nights I would spend talking/gossiping (you all know you do it : P) with my fellow SJPers as we walked back to Scully from friend at midnight. But I also remembered the feelings of sadness yet joy as I had to say goodbye. Before nostalgia hits I want to say: I know advice at SJP is given everywhere, but something that I cannot stress enough is that the time spent with these people is short, meaning that every conversation, every walk, and every smile must be treasured. Once you graduate from the program, the only physical thing you carry with you is that PSJP shirt.

As for my SJP shirts, this is a collection that I don’t want to finish, I want it to always expand, develop, and inspire through my own life journey.

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