Tacos, dogs, cats, cookies, cupcakes and apple picking, these are some activities that I shared with residential college faculty fellows during the year. Faculty fellows are faculty members who live within the residential colleges and provide events and activities that gets students out of their daily academic stress and encourage a bit of self care.
Beginning the school year transition from the end of a satisfying summer of other pursuits. The faculty fellows are introduced to a new round of freshman and trying to keep an eye on their cat as it threads in and out of open dorm rooms. I am included in a small group of students invited for dinner. The cat has returned and it winds its tail around the dog’s face as we gathered at the table. A visual and aromatic buffet of taco ingredients awaits. Soft shells, hard shells, beans, rice, guacamole, lettuce, salsa, chicken, every option a college student could hope for when sitting down for what feels like a true family meal. The conversation keeps moving as does the food off the plate. It’s good to be back at WashU for the fall semester.
Fall, while the leaves turn colors and the midterm season begins to turn blank notecards to flashcards. The Brookings faculty fellows routinely plan student trips to Eckart’s for apple picking. Only a short bus ride from campus, yet a wonderful rural farm feel to pick their own fresh apples from orchard trees and inhale country fresh air. Eckart’s is a large wonderland of fresh fruits, from apple orchards to pumpkin patches. The autumn air is still warm in the city and the spicy scents of cinnamon hint of pies to come.
Winter, when snow flurries to pile gently on our backpacks and the white paper of final essays pile inside them, the faculty fellows have indoor plans to warm the finals spirit. It’s dark outside by dinner time as winter takes hold, and the students are largely indoors. Holding tubes of icing in any color necessary to create a smiling snowman, a sparkling snowflake, a tiny tree, or a dancing dreidel. Sugar cookies are piled high on the table ready to be decorated and shared. Though, not all of the cookies make it to be shared, many fall victim to an immediate snack by the artist who decorated them, yet not without taking a photo of smiling sugar-filled college students first.
Spring, when colorful flowers appear in the landscaping beds and new course schedules begin, we join our resident fellows in their apartment again. This time cupcakes sit on the table, big cupcakes, little cupcakes, chocolate and vanilla. Chocolate chips of all spring time colors sit in little coin shapes in their respective dishes. And the frosting begins, chocolate becomes a swirl of flower petals turning the cupcakes into a garden of sweets. The remainders are decorated and left in the lobby so those who couldn’t make it still get to enjoy the activity.