Summer is coming. In about two weeks, we will all be celebrating the end of another semester in our own ecstatic ways. This end-of-the-year celebration may be loud, quiet, public, private, creative or even self-destructive depending on the individual, and it will definitely be a well-deserved occasion for all parties involved. After all, it marks the end of something dreadful, or so we feel. But what exactly will have ended then?
It’s interesting to think about the way we, as students of a prestigious higher education institution, think about education. A professor, whose name kind of rhymes with carrot, once observed that students shouldn’t flee their classes like a crime scene. However, it seems that’s what a lot of students end up doing at the end of the semester. We, sometimes literally, run away from our classes. We discard reading materials with a passion, and sometimes we don’t even recycle. Some of us even take pride in claiming that our brains have a special feature that deletes everything we had learned from classes immediately after the final examination. After that, we don’t ever look back.
It’s all fun and games until we seriously think about our education in the Amherst context. We shouldn’t equate it with classes, although some classes do contribute a lot to it. We shouldn’t reduce it to this annual cycle of obligation from which we have to flee occasionally in order to feel all better.
Education is a perpetual, ongoing phenomenon. It can be painful, and it can be rewarding. It is what largely defines who we are and who we become. With that in mind, the impending celebrations should be for our perseverance and hard work, not for the end of another arbitrary period of our education. It continues onward.
The summer, then, should be a time for further learning and reflection, a break from the rigor of schoolwork, but not a break from education. Amherst students will be spending their summer all over the world, including at Amherst. Regardless of the physical location, we will all be in environments different from the one we are currently in, and we will all be engaging in tasks different from those we engage in during school year. So, in the spirit of the Amherst education, we should immerse ourselves in whatever we do, wherever we are, with the intention of becoming a different, better person.