One of the things that I have been most blessed with during my time at Middlebury has been good conversation. The pace of work and life here is surprisingly fast in such a quiet surrounding, but what continues to refresh me are my conversations here.
The most genuine conversation I’ve had lately came from the most unexpected source. I walked into Ross dining hall, book in hand to read for a quiz in Education in America. After doing a full circle around to see what was up for grabs for breakfast decided to start with coffee before anything else. Let me point out that I am a firm believer that breakfast can and often needs to be a working meal. It’s my time to wake up and to finish up whatever last bit of reading I just almost finished last night. Depending on how much sleep I can sometimes go from standard politeness to even friendly, something my mother would tell you has taken me long to learn. I suppose I was being particularly friendly Thursday morning as I said hello to a classmate because he decided to join me at my table. Ignoring the reading material that I had brought with me, he sat with a full plate of French toast sticks and we began to talk about the Sociology of Tourism senior seminar that we are taking together.
We talked about the professor, the class dynamic and even a touch of the reading material – all standard small talk. I continued to sip from my coffee cup, prepared with an out whenever the cup came to an end, but somehow by the time I hit the bottom of it we were talking about our paths into our chosen majors, what both rich and poor colleges have to offer students, our frustrations and our hopes for the future. We talked about ways in which we’ve shaped our own educations and moments where maybe we should have done that more. It almost doesn’t matter what we talked about, but the quality of our conversation convinced me to sit down with food as well and stay to continue it rather than just politely ducking out.
I’ve never been a morning person, but given that this was not my only great breakfast conversation of the week Middlebury just might inspire me to wake up with the sun. Where else would I have the chance to sit with a fifth-generation Vermonter and talk about the distinct advantages of rich and poor colleges or talk to a Hong-Kong born Australian about the identity and future of ethnic enclaves?