I am not sure if you’ve seen the big news on the front page, but author Jonathan Safran Foer is going to speak at the commencement address of the class of 2013! Which is my graduation!
Now, the fact that such a renowned author (Everything is Illuminated, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Eating Animals) is already pretty huge. Ever since being introduced to David Foster Wallace’s famous commencement address, This Is Water, given to the Kenyon College class of 2005, I have always dreamed of having a favorite author deliver the parting words of my college.
But this is not just any favorite author. This is the author of my year’s Common Reading selection. The summer before you come to Middlebury, you receive a welcome packet that includes a map, your first year course selection, some promotional materials, and a book. This book is your Common Reading and the school ask that you read it before arriving on campus to then engage in intimate group discussions led by faculty and staff during the week of Orientation. The book I received my year was Everything Is Illuminated. I can remember this book being what completely reaffirmed my decision to enroll at Middlebury. It was the first time reading the book (I had only seen the movie with Elijah Wood…) and I remember being astonished that the school would select such a complex and emotion-filled book as the introduction to the college. When we arrived on campus, I was so excited to have our Common Reading discussion – I had fallen in love with the author’s prose and his style of communicating the narrative. I could not wait to begin connecting with other students through literature.
After this experience, I held on to the dream that Jonathan Safran Foer might be the one to speak at our graduation – that the voice that welcomed us to this four-year adventure might be the one that would send us off. When the news came out that he would indeed be that voice, I jumped in joy the way I did when I found out I got into Middlebury. What a beautiful thing to see it all come full-circle.