A Spirit of Community
by Rahul Mehra ’03
- It is this supportive and spirited community that sets Deerfield apart from other academic institutions.
The summer before I came to Deerfield was filled with uncertainty for me. Basking in the warm Mumbai sun during my last few weeks at home, I couldn’t help but be ambivalent about my future. I had never visited America before, let alone Deerfield. And yet here I was, ready to leave my family, my home, and the warm tropical climate to head out 10,000 miles away to a New England boarding school. I could only rely on my imagination to know what Deerfield would be like.
It was at this time that I received a little note in my mail. The note was postmarked in Nahant, Massachusetts. The first line read, “Dear Rahul— Greetings and welcome to the Deerfield community!” I read on. The note was from Goran, who was assigned to be my “Green Key.” In his own scrawl he said that he would be around to address any concerns I had throughout the summer and into the school year. I set his note down on my table with mixed feelings. I felt a sense of relief at having established a link at Deerfield, but at the same time I wondered what might have gone through Goran’s mind while writing this note to me. Besides my address and name, he knew little about me but was still offering me his help, support, and friendship.
A month after receiving the note, I arrived at Deerfield. For me it was a new culture, a new climate, a new society—a whole new experience. On the second day of orientation, I was exploring the campus. I strolled from building to building, walking in and out of doors, soaking in the soft New England sun. I was strolling aimlessly on the path toward the Dining Hall. My growling stomach and the good food was beckoning me.
“Hey, aren’t you Rahul? I recognize your face from your photograph. Anyway, I’m Goran, your Green Key,” a boy said exuberantly. That was my first introduction to Goran. “You wanna play Frisbee?” he asked.
I said, “I’m not quite sure how to play—I’ve never played it before.”
“I’ll teach you,” he quickly replied. Over the course of the next half hour Goran taught me the basics of Frisbee. I left my flip-flops aside on the lush green grass and we played until the autumn sun went down behind the Berkshire Hills. Frisbee—I thought excitedly as I put on my flip-flops—another new experience.
In the days and weeks that ensued, I met more people: faculty, staff, and students. All of them offered their help and advice to enable me to settle in at Deerfield. Reflecting back on those crucial weeks, I realized how each member of this community helped me in their own way. Whether it was lugging my over-sized suitcase upstairs to my dorm or showing me the way to Classroom 28, there was always someone there to help.
It is this supportive and spirited community that sets Deerfield apart from other academic institutions. For a new junior from halfway around the globe, faculty and students like Goran all contributed to helping me adjust to the new environment. The friendships I have forged with this community will stay with me for a lifetime, though we all part ways. Goran will move on to college in Connecticut; I will go back home to India. The spirit and pride of the community, and the memories of the days spent in a New England village will remain with both of us, as with all the members of this privileged community. Not quite the New England boarding school I had imagined.