Samantha Cherveny spent part of her summer studying gender and memoir at Wellesley Pre-College Immersive Program in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
Why did you choose to participate in a summer program?
I was more than a little nervous entering Wellesley’s campus this past June, considering I had never been away from home for more than three consecutive days, much less an entire month, much less by myself. Yet, I wanted to break out of my comfort zone, meet new people with ideas that differed from those typical of my small hometown in Ohio, and experience life on my own in a place I could feel completely comfortable being myself. I guess I just wanted to challenge myself a little – be it academically, socially or mentally. So, pushing aside my doubts, I decided to spend four weeks in a place I’d never been with people I’d never met in an attempt to find out who I was without my family, my friends, or my normal life.
How did you decide which program or camp was right for you?
I found the program that contained features interesting to me, and was also in a place where I felt most comfortable.
What was a typical day in your summer program or at camp?
My days usually started with waking up at around 7:30 and then heading to breakfast with some friends. We ate (my usual was a bowl of fruit and some potatoes), made coffee or tea (or both), and then headed to our classes. On Mondays and Fridays I only had one class, but Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays I had both. On a day that I had both, I went to Studies in Memoir, where we journaled for the first 10 minutes or so and discussed personal memoirs and poetry, then headed to lunch at around 12:10 pm. I ate lunch with friends, made another cup of coffee or tea (or both), then went to my next class, Women’s and Gender Studies. There, we analyzed aspects of feminism in literature and film, in addition to discussing the role of gender and race in modern society. At around 4 p.m., I headed to the campus center and did some homework before dinner at 5:30 p.m. Every night after dinner, I walked back to my dorm blasting music in my headphones and taking in the beauty of Wellesley’s campus. Typically, my friends and I headed to the common room and studied, listened to music, watched movies, or talked until it was time to get ready for bed. Then, I woke up and did it all again.
What was the most memorable moment of your summer?
On the first day, I walked out of my dorm with my parents and passed a girl who was alone, looking a little lost. Conditioned from years of high school, I put my head down, avoided eye contact, and kept walking, that is, until by dad urged me to ask her if she needed directions. She introduced herself as Keeva and it turned out we were heading to the same place, so I summoned up some courage and asked her to join. Flash forward a few weeks, after countless walks to town, countless shared meals, countless sunset-viewings at the lake, and countless other adventures, Keeva and I became best friends – all because I reached out in that moment.
What advice do you have for teens looking at summer programs or camps?
Find a place where you feel completely comfortable.You will get more out of the experience if you’re able to be yourself. Being in such a welcoming and accepting environment filled with such caring people allowed me to shed any worry of awkwardness or rejection, and, instead, find the courage within myself to reach out to people and form friendships and create memories, both of which I will forever cherish.