On Gratitude and (Different Types of) Families

It’s almost Thanksgiving, so I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m grateful for. This Friday, the tennis team went to have dinner at the home of our volunteer assistant coach, Professor David Karen, and I realized that almost everything that I’m thankful for is people. This past year has brought so many amazing people into my life, so here’s a list of them who are, each in their own way, like a family.

  1. Professor David Karen’s family:DK,” as the tennis team calls him, has welcomed us twice into his home for dinner. I loved our conversations on politics, sociology (what he and his wife both teach!), sports, New York (where he grew up and I lived this summer), and more. This year, the dinner came at a time in the school year when I almost forgot what it’s like to be in a home and not a dorm or dining hall, and I’m so grateful to the Karen’s for that.

    Feeling right at home in Professor Karen’s house.

    Professor Karen and his make-shift doorbell (sign).

  2. Hell Week family: My favorite Bryn Mawr tradition is Hell Week, also known as Welcome the First Years Week, because of “hell families.” First-years “propose” to sophomores (or juniors or seniors, but mainly sophomores) and that is their hell mom or hell parent. I have two moms (three if you count an adopted one I proposed to after Hell Week), two grandmothers, great-grandmothers, cousins, and more–you get the idea. I also now have a hell baby, and a grand-baby, and it’s just very supportive and, indeed, welcoming. Everyone on one side of my family has been at least a computer science minor, bringing us to #4:

    I visited my hell grandmother who works at Google now as a software engineer.

  3. Computer Science family/professors in general: There’s something uniting about spending a lot of time with classmates both in class, in TA sessions or office hours, and in lab late at night. This small department hosts teas, movie nights, speakers, panels, workshops, and more, and really is like a family with our professors as parents. I’m pretty sure I had some of my most heartfelt conversations with my computer graphics professor and department head Dianna Xu.
  4. Tennis family: of course. We bond over long bus and van rides, overnight trips, early morning practices and workouts, and just pushing each other to be better on court and in life.
  5. The Bhutani family: Last year, I spent Thanksgiving at my friend Devica’s house, and her family has also visited and hosted a small group for dinner and Diwali before. I honestly love them all and they remind me of my family so much in the best ways, like Mrs. Bhutani is a teacher and my mom is sort-of a school librarian.

    At Devica’s house (Bhutani family that’s not Devica not shown.)

  6. My intern/future team: I found so many mentors on my team who welcomed me as an intern and treated me like I was a full-time employee just like them. They put so much trust and faith in me, pushing me to be better and giving me their time. My favorite week this summer was when we were all together in San Francisco because the only thing better than learning from them online was being with them in-person. I’m grateful for that, and for the opportunity to continue working with them this school year as well as afterwards.
  7. My friends and family. They say to surround yourself with those you want to be like. Whether it’s my real family or my friends, I’m grateful to them all for putting up with my hopes, fears, dreams, and concerns; studying with me, exploring with me, watching sports with me; and just making me a better human.

    (L-R) Me, Francesca Caramazza ’20, Sydney Kim ’20, Mariam Haider ’18, and Julia Holeman ’20 studying together in the Campus Center.

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