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Tradition, Transition, Reflection

The past month has been a time of both celebration and reflection, of both reunions and goodbyes with close friends, and of closure to my college days and busy preparation for the adventures ahead.  Though these are all quite predictable aspects of the graduation (or Commencement, as Princeton prefers to call it) experience, it has been an intense period of time nonetheless, filled with both nostalgia and anticipation.

Three cheers for Old Nassau...

class of 2010 and 2009 beer jackets

It all began, as Shirley Tilghman referred to it in one of her many Commencement weekend speeches, with the “hoopla of Reunions“–the truly indescribable orange and black blur of a weekend (tents, fences, bands, beer, costumes, P-Rade!, children, golf carts, fireworks, chaos).  This year’s oldest returning alumnus was once again Malcolm Warnock, class of 1925 (his 85th Reunion!), who reigned stoically over the P-Rade, followed by the usual bagpipes, dogs/babies dressed as tigers, old alums sharing beers with young alums, tiger-striped cars, and witty signage.  Finally, the class of 2010 rushed Poe Field to take our places as the newest Tiger alums, while all of the older classes cheered a Locomotive in our honor (Hip! Hip! Rah! Rah! Rah! Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! Sis! Sis! Sis! Boom! Boom! Boom! Ah! 2010! 2010! 2010!).  The past four years, along with this final incredible weekend, brainwashed convinced me enough that I fully plan to return to Old Nassau until I am Malcolm’s age.

Twenty-Ten! Twenty-Ten! Twenty-Ten!

the 2010 senior class rushes Poe Field at the end of the P-Rade

The superb ridiculousness of Reunions was naturally followed by “the pomp and circumstance of Commencement” (another Shirley T. phrase).  Jeff Bezos ’86, CEO of Amazon.com, told us to reflect on the difference between cleverness and kindness, as we gathered in the chapel on Baccalaureate Sunday (And by the way, Jeff–just bought a Kindle to travel with next year and it’s pretty awesome.  Thanks).  Charlie Gibson ’65 and some of our remarkably hilarious classmates gave knee-slapping yet inspiring speeches on Class Day.  And lastly, on Commencement Day, we gathered in front of Nassau Hall, sweating in our caps and gowns, to finally hear that handful of Latin words that meant we were graduates, later dispersing to collect our coveted diplomas, pose with friends and family, and exchange hugs and tears as we left campus one by one.

Blue Ridge Mountains, near Crozet

porch of King Family Vineyards in Crozet

I returned home to Virginia, to enjoy a tiny bit of rest and to begin gearing up for my year with Princeton-in-Asia, which is set to begin this summer.

sunrise at Little River Farm

Though much of the past few weeks in Charlottesville have been spent shopping for appropriate clothing (and other essentials) for the subcontinent and doing lots of research to figure out exactly what these are, I’ve found some time to rediscover my hometown as well.  Snippets of Cville life in June: wine tasting at King Family Vineyards, old friends, new restaurants, and an unexpectedly dramatic storm.

Lincoln looks out on the Capitol.

A weekend trip to DC was also in order to apply for my work visa to India (this is a yet-to-be-resolved saga in itself, which will perhaps be the subject of some future post), and I extended the trip to visit with friends, who have slowly been amassing in “the District” to join the ranks of “the Real World” (the one involving post-grad jobs, rather than the reality show).  Among the highlights of the weekend: a visit to the National Zoo, a visit to a friend’s Northern Virginia farm, and a late-night excursion to the monuments.

Before I know it, these last few days in the US will pass, along with this period of transition, which has brought me from the FitzRandolph Gate, back home, and soon, halfway across the world.

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An American in Paris

Happy 4th of July to all!

Paris was packed with festivities yesterday…completely unrelated to the American independence day.  In the morning was an annual “Chasse aux Tresors,” or scavenger hunt, in many of the arrondissements around the city.  Clara and I met up with a high school friend and her friend from Stanford to attempt the game, which turned out to be a lot more difficult than expected.  We had follow cryptic and strangely translated instructions to go to different local businesses to gather clues, which eventually led us to the end of the hunt, where we were entered in a raffle for finishing (but left with no prizes except a sense of accomplishment).

dragon at the tropical carnival parade

dragon at the tropical carnival parade

Directly after there was a tropical carnival going on, with an incredibly long parade of drum and dance groups from Guyana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and other tropical countries.  The amount of energy, considering the intense heat and sun, and the huge costumes, was impressive.

Lady Liberty, Jr. looks to NY

Lady Liberty, Jr. looks to NY

As a small gesture of patriotism at the end of a day filled with Parisian festivities, I made a pilgrimage out to the Quai des Cygnes, in the middle of the Seine, where a downsized Statue of Liberty looks to the west toward her counterpart in New York.

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In Praise of Old Nassau: Reunions ’09

crowds swarm at the P-Rade

crowds swarm at the P-Rade

This year was my first year to make it to the legendary Princeton Reunions, and they completely lived up to the hype.  The festivities kicked off Thursday night, with parties and bands under all the tents.  We were staying in Pyne, which shares its courtyard with the 5th reunion, always the rowdiest and latest-partying tent, where the music and revelry sounds late into the night…and into the next morning.

Malcolm, class of 1925 reigns over the P-Rade

Malcolm, class of 1925 reigns over the P-Rade

Saturday I attended the annual alumni rugby match, because Josh was playing for the current team, which each year challenges the returning alums for a friendly game.  For the first time in a few years the current team fell to the alums (mostly because the champion 2004 team was back for the 5th reunion).  During the day was the highly-anticipated P-Rade, which lasted from 2-5 (which can give you an idea of how many alums there were on campus).  The P-Rade was led by the 25th, but afterward alums (and their families) marched in descending age, beginning with the oldest alumnus, Malcolm, class of 1925, who had the honor of carrying the silver cane and riding in a golf cart.  Most of the oldest guys ride alongside a current student in a cart, but a surprising number of guys from the 1930’s classes proudly walked the whole way, joining in the Princeton Locomotive cheer and stopping only to clink beer cans in a toast with students on the sidelines.  The P-Rade was a whirlwind of Princeton spirit and ridiculousness, from the class of ‘59’s “Tipsy Tiger Trolley”  and ‘69’s “Magical Mystery Mobile” (blaring “Yellow Submarine” of course) to various decked-out vehicles, costumes, signs, banners, and music.  A particularly touching section was the class of ’44, who back for their 65th, honored the 89% of their class who served in WWII with army jeeps, signs, a military band, uniforms, and large faceboards of classmates who died in battle.  Lastly, the class of 2009 stormed onto Poe Field for the grand finale.

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