Surviving Thanksgiving

To our dear students,
Some of you will be visiting your families this coming week, or perhaps you are already there and reading this in a desperate attempt to escape. Families are tough; I know, I've got two of them (my own, and my in-laws). Here are some ideas to carry you through conversations with the Greek Chorus of aunts and uncles (parents, siblings, grandparents). Good luck! Remember that thousands of Evergreen students have had, more or less, this exact conversation before you. Take heart.
Sean, Don, and Rob

1. So what are you studying, exactly?
We're studying some of the world's great stories, from Shakespeare (Lear) to Sophocles (Oedipus), Melville (Billy Budd) to Ovid (Orpheus). We're also studying stories from oral narrative (the Children of Lir), poetry, and songs. And then we take these great stories and figure out how people make them culturally relevant by using music, dance, and theater. We also study the process of adaptation from one medium to the next: from story to song, poetry to dance, etc. We spend time in workshops too, learning by doing.
2. How did you do on your midterms?
Our classes are so small that our professors know us pretty well. They read our various assignments, talk to us, listen to us, and we participate in seminars together. They don't need midterms to know how we're doing.
3. But what's your major?
Luckily, I don't have to declare a major. Instead, I will probably spend time working with several related fields over the next year or so until I find the field that's just right for me. We've come a long way since kindergarten, when we were given just a few options for what we could be when we grew up (doctor/nurse/veterinarian, teacher, astronaut, princess). There are jobs in the future that haven't even been created yet; maybe I'll be doing that. Evergreen prepares me to create my own future instead of making me a cookie cut-out.
4. Oh yeah? How does it do that?
For starters, we have to be able to take a stand in seminar and defend our ideas in public. That can be hard. But it's a skill I'll need no matter what I end up doing. At the end of each quarter, we do public presentations of our work within a specific time frame. Being able to gather information and present that information in a timely way (whatever it is, from a performance to a speech) is another skill I'll probably need. We work collaboratively with people who are fairly different from us in the class. Every work situation requires collaboration, and it is actually the #1 skill that any employer needs from a college graduate. We collaborate all the time, and we're getting pretty good at it already. We are learning to accept that not everything about a given class at Evergreen is instantly relevant to our learning, or our lives; instead, it might not be relevant for another five (or ten, or twenty) years. We're trying to take a somewhat longer view of things; so far, it's working. And if you like, I can show you some of my work, or maybe we can rent "Black Orpheus" and I can tell you all about liminality, archetypes, Apollonian and Dionysian cosmology, dancing along the axis mundi, the descent to the underworld, trance and spirituality, and the difference between men singing with plucked stringed instruments, and female drummers.
5. You're weird.
Thank you! I certainly hope so. And by the way, what grade did YOU get on your midterms?