Some college traditions are like wine: they get better with age.
I’ve loved most Bryn Mawr traditions since my first year, but Parade Night was not one of them. Yes, I stayed until the end of the night my first year, and I teared up as I walked through the line of Mawrters as they held their lanterns and sang. I did feel welcomed home that night, but that feeling was not enough to keep me and some classmates coming back the next year. Our sophomore year, we skipped Parade Night to attend PennApps, Penn’s biannual college hackathon (48-hour computer programming competition.) Others had similar sentiments this year: two sophomore tennis teammates forewent attending Parade Night to attend a concert in Philly.
This year, as the first years ran down past the Great Hall and the Senior Steps for Parade Night, I began to reflect.
Maybe it was because we seniors were getting sentimental. Maybe it was the great weather (a light breeze, not too warm and not too cold.) Whatever it was, the atmosphere surrounding the Senior Steps on which I finally sat this year was difficult to describe. I felt connected to classmates I’d barely talked to before, or who I’d only seen in passing. I felt supported, empowered, and ready to tackle senior year. I smiled as I looked out at the other classes sitting to the left, right, and in front of the senior class, and sought out familiar faces.
In the past, I’ve sung quietly to myself during Step Sing. Yet this Parade Night, my classmates and I sang loudly and clearly to our hearts’ content. I noted that the other classes were more hesitant, and I reflected on that change. The Class of 2018 has been through a lot together, and our four years of shared experiences have brought us closer. Feeling truly at home after a summer of being away from campus, I felt like I could better welcome home the underclass students.
My only hope now is that I can continue to make Bryn Mawr home for others as others did so for me. All the traditions help a lot with that, and I’m glad I realized that as I start my fourth and final year.