Drew Oliveira '13
Hobart Senior Speech
May 19, 2013
Good Morning Mr. President, Faculty, members of the Board, families, friends, Classes of 2013.
“You have to give a part yourself to a place before you can call it your home”. Professor of religious studies Richard Salter told me this on a snowy afternoon four years ago. The truth is, metaphorically, I was homeless. That Fall as we all arrived here on campus, my family sold the house I grew up in and moved north. We had always been a moving family, never staying put for too long. “What is home?” Professor Salter asked us in our freshman seminar that day, “where is home?”. I didn’t know where I was from, I didn’t know where my home was. You’re asked that same question so many times those first weeks of freshman year: “where are you from?”. Where are we from? Did any of us really know those first weeks? That snowy afternoon four years ago I still didn’t know. We put up posters in our rooms in JPR to hide the cinder block walls, we filled our drawers with our clothing, and we dressed our beds up with the familiar feel of our own sheets, and yet there was still something missing. But then, with time, something happened. “You have to give a part of yourself to a place before you can call it your home”. You have to invest yourself, sacrifice some piece of yourself, give it your confidence and your attention. It’s this sacrifice that brought us closer to that goal. I’ve come to believe that, as we did these past four years, with the right amount of time and care you can come to love anything or any place. You only get as much from a place as you put of yourself into it. Now, these years later on this stage looking out towards all of you, I see the home we built here every day.
We gave so much of ourselves to this place in the four years we’ve occupied these halls.
We gave it our vulnerability those first weeks as we opened ourselves to the throes of a new world, when we tried new experiences with new people and opened ourselves to the possibility of failure or rejection. We tried out, we auditioned, we pledged, we took a chance on new relationships and new friends.
We gave it our attention in the front row of lectures and President’s Forums, or when we stayed up late nights working in the back corners of the library.
We gave it our joy on the crest of a new spring as we lay in our short sleeves somewhere between the boathouse and the quad, lost in the golden floods of those first warm days.
We shared with it our pain, the pain of a break up, of a loss on the playing field, of a failure in the classroom or the pain of our darkest moments.
We gave it our enthusiasm that first time we felt the cold thrill of a night swim in the lake, or when we bundled up in purple and green to watch a Hockey Game down at the Cooler.
We gave it our concern when we ran for student office and when we’d rolled out of bed for Day’s of Service, when we woke up for 5am practice, or when we stayed up late nights in the chapel rehearsing for a concert.
We gave it our patience when we had none, on those dark days when we felt alone, rejected, or stressed, or on those days when the icy winter wind whipped up the lake and through every gap in our tightly wrapped jackets.
We gave it our energy on those intoxicating winter nights down at the bars, singing and dancing in the steamy alcohol induced pulse of Sideshow; the sound of pool balls cracking to the beats of Benny and the Jets.
We gave it our wonder in the classroom or the lab, or as we watched the sun rise over the lake, groggy and tired, at the close of another all-nighter.
We gave it our thrill, our intoxication with life, on those warm fall nights when our revelry would reach far beyond the bounds of midnight, fading into the morning hours between the rhythms of conversation, music, and the stars.
We gave it our love.
Together, we’ve lived in every corner of this campus. We’ve left these pieces of ourselves in every hall and doorway, every classroom or playing field, every chair in Saga. We are of this college, and it is of us.
Today, we stand on the threshold, one small piece of paper from that wild oblivion called life; homeless again, uncertain, excited.
Do not think for a second that we’re leaving some golden era behind us. Our mythic college days, the ones we’ll tell stories about for years to come, they are behind us now, but our golden years, they are always ahead. Keep finding new homes, new worlds, new places. Keep positive; love, nurture, appreciate. Keep giving a part of yourself. Like a home, life is only as rewarding as what you put into it. Keep yourself intoxicated with life; give life your trust, your joy, your attention, concern, and wonder. Give it your love.
On our search for place, for new homes, remember: we were homeless that fall day we arrived here, but we have found one new home, a home here among each other beneath these Geneva skies, a home we’ll forever share in the form of memories, experiences, and sacrifices. A home defined by what we have given it, nurtured by what has come before us, and strengthened by the promise of what is to come.
What a world we inhabit to allow such a place to exist.
Sunday, May 19, 2013