I like, most of the people I know, miss Berkeley more than just about anything right now. One of my friends even jokingly asked once what body part I’d be willing to give up if it meant going back to Berkeley the next day: a leg, just toes, a single eye… an absolutely arbitrary argument about complete nonsense. The point being we yearn to go back, to see the campanile, to lounge on memorial glade on a warm day, even to spend a long day studying in Main Stacks. Berkeley is a very special place, it is our home, it brings us together and makes us feel whole.
While being home during quarantine has made me feel disconnected from Berkeley, I had a very fortunate opportunity this past week as a Campus Ambassador to be apart of the Cal Week programming. I signed up to help out with answering questions for as many events as I could, doing the virtual tours and panels as often as possible. It was great. Being able to talk to prospective students about the school I love so much brought me back, making me feel more connected to Cal than I had in a long time.
A key thing that made that possible was being able to hear the stories of my fellow campus ambassadors both during the events themselves and during our meetings afterwards. Special shout out to KC for his mushroom story that I will never get tired of hearing. After our closing meeting, we argued about whether or not straws were needed or should be a thing: absolutely arbitrary. I personally am a fan of metal straws, Jordan thinks straws shouldn’t exist and are overrated, Allison says they are vital for milkshakes, KC wanted straw washing stations… it went on. We joked about even having a campus ambassador podcast where you just listen to us argue, that that was the true Berkeley experience. While they joked, I couldn’t help but think they had something there. The passion that every ambassador I heard and was able to talk to made me realize that even though we are not in Berkeley, its spirit will always remain because it lives within us.
That got me thinking a lot about Berkeley as a whole and about my experiences. One thing that I heard over and over again during CalWeek is that while the campus itself is incredible, with all of our resources, it really is the students that make going here so wonderful. Being separated from campus has never made me acknowledge that more. UC Berkeley is a very special place that brings together the most incredible people, giving us a space to grow and be authentically ourselves. The more I talk to my friends and my fellow ambassadors, the more I feel like everything is going to be okay. I want more than anything to go back home to Berkeley but as long as I am still connected to the people there, Berkeley will always be with me.