Saturday, June 7, 2014

5th Reunions

Reunions are a big deal in Princeton.  It's a 3-day party, complete with alumni panels where you can continue to learn about interesting topics, gatherings with the teams/clubs you had joined, a 4-hr parade that you got to watch and walk in, fireworks, and partying the night away.  Sadly, 2 of my roommates couldn't make it back, and it wasn't the same without them, but we made the best of it.

I woke up at 4:15am for a 6:45 direct flight.  Going into Philly, though, I had to take a series of 4 trains, with 30 min (ave) layovers between each.  I arrived on campus at around noon, checked in, treked up to the off-campus dorm at a neighboring college, dropped off my stuff, and headed down to the tow path.  I loved running on the beautiful path by Carnegie lake, where I could blow off stress a couple of times per week.

I got 13.8 mi in 2:13:43, a slow 9:41/mi ave.  I got tired about halfway through the out-and-back and turned around at a pedestrian bridge that goes over Route 1.  It was odd that the run was as hard as it was.  I took it slowly, though, and just enjoyed being back.  It was tough on my legs, but I shuffled through.

 After the run, I met up with a friend, and we wandered around campus, visiting places of importance to us.  We went to the room where we used to meet for Bible Studies, we had a picnic in front of a fountain, I stopped to sample craft beer, we searched for spikes on the track, took my homegrown reunions tradition photo next to my class plaque, browsed the university gear store, and had froyo.

(My very tall friend and I had a game, where we saw how many steps it took each of us to walk across a 2-pronged bridge... it was about 175 to 135.)

The next day, I attended an interesting alumni panel about whether women can/should "do it all" (career, family, community service, etc). 

Some interesting thoughts:
- Yes, but with different things at different times, because you can't do it all without sacrificing quality somewhere.  Doing it all may involve taking a sabbatical from work, for example, or a less high-level job.
- Structural changes (as opposed to habit changes by women alone) are required in society, to change the ongoing inequality.  This means that men need to be just as involved as the women in making the necessary changes. 
- Today's women are at a crossroads of two divergent cultural traditions - Nobody believes that 100% of women should work, or 100% of women should support the family.  There will be some mixture, with women doing one, the other, or both, and the key is to make the changes to our institutions and society to give women the opportunity to pursue whatever option they want.  Think about how racism has been battled in the past.... it wasn't by bringing the oppressed group into rooms for discussions where you tell them to "lean in" more, and prove themselves.  Legislation was often required to force the right thing to happen.
- Not enough value is placed on unpaid work, whether it's supporting family or volunteering.

Went to a class lunch, where I got to talk to former classmates that I hadn't seen in a while.  Got coffee with friends, a number of whom had babies in the past year.  Lots of babies all around.  Went to the Friday Night Fellowship meeting for my campus ministry.  It was encouraging to hear the testimonies of what God had taught a couple of the graduating seniors.

- Our God is a pursuing God, who out of his fervent love for us, seeks us out and hopes that we might come to him. He doesn't give up on us, even when we reject and even betray him. 
- Many of us have stories where dear friends pursued us and drew us back, when we were tempted to withdraw, too.  As we become Pursuers and follow in Christ's example, there will be times when we may experience rejection, but we should persevere, because we know from experience how important it is to keep trying and not give up.

After FNF, I went to an arch sing by my old a cappella group.  They changed things up a bit, and after going through some new songs, they had a set of old songs where we got to join in.  That was great.  Unfortunately, the last song was after my time, so I had to poorly try to lip-synch that one, haha.  It's a great group, though.  Two of them were the two that gave senior testimonies, too, and I think two others were worship leaders at FNF!  Even though we were never at Pton at the same time, you still feel a bond with them.

The next morning, I went to two talks... one about what it was like to be a Washington Post journalist breaking one of the biggest foreign & domestic policy stories of the decade.  Another one was about books that changed the lives of an alumni panel.  I always thought Ulysses had to do with Greek Mythology, but apparently, it doesn't.  If I came away with something, I guess it would be an even stronger desire to read a Tale of Two Cities, which I had started a couple weeks ago.

After that, a PEF alumni lunch for more catching up, then the P-rade, a parade of all alumni.  It starts with 90-year-olds at the top of campus, and each year gradually folds in.  It lasts 4 hours, because there are so many alumni, sporting their beer jackets or major reunions (every 5th year) costumes.  Our theme for the 5th was OktoberFifth "oh, nein!".  So we had dirndls and lederhosen.  Lots of cheering, lots of orange and black.

Back to the E-quad for more catching up with PEFers, followed by an Ultimate Frisbee reunion dinner at a great Indian restaurant, before heading out for fireworks.  Princeton's fireworks are consistently the best I've ever seen.  They synch up all different types of fireworks to music, and it's amazing how well-timed it is, and how creative the matchings are.

Headed back Sunday, after watching the Baccalaureate speech, froyo, and immortalizing the weekend with my friend.


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