Peace and Reciprocity

Middlebury values a sense of place and community in all forms. Please tell us about the community in which you grew up. How has it influenced you and your vision about the way you plan to engage the world?

I can see myself alone, sitting, squatting really, on the branch of a monstrous sprawling oak tree with dirt under my fingernails and stinging branch-scraped knees. I am out of breath after having climbed to the very top so as to see my neighborhood in its entirety. On my face, checkered light contorted by the shapes of leaves shines in silence, and in this space I float seamlessly between being and nothingness.

Moments like these filled my childhood, and in them lay secrets that have helped shape the contours of my very identity. My hometown in the suburbs of Baltimore was a place of deep introspection in which I reflected on and became aware of my own being independent of family and school environs. In that tree I was taken out of context, and with no teachers, parents, or playmates, I began to contemplate what being myself truly meant. Looking out on my street with a perspective unchecked by experience, I was able to view the world with an intuitive clarity of which it is hard to speak. To grow up in Maryland is to have an early, intimate relationship with nature, and mine in particular was one that came to define my spiritual and intellectual makeup later in life.

When many people think of Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region...

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