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Elizabeth Tan ~ Grad Reflection

Hi, my name is Elizabeth, and, to start, some of you may know that I have a terrible memory. And if you didn’t know, now you do. I always like to say that I got it from my dad. I sometimes lament the fact that I can’t remember so many of the little moments from my college career. I wish I could cherish all the good times, and the bad, but that just isn’t how I work. However, I rejoice that so many of the significant moments that I can recall over the past 4 years have happened here, at Pres House.

I remember the first Pres House Sunday worship after I moved into my freshman dorm. Well. I remember hearing about it. My twin brother, Benjamin, attended and had asked in our family group chat “Elizabeth, are you going to Pres House today?” As I had hardly gotten a grip on the fact that I was living on my own in a new place and new city, I replied, “I wasn’t gonna go today”. But by the next week, I attended my first service, and Ben was already playing with the music team. And by the week after that, I was up here too with my violin.

Most of the in-between details of my thoughts and feelings about Pres House in freshman year are hazy, but one thing is for sure — during that time many people here asked me to do or try many things. And I hate to say it, but that “peer pressure” really worked on me. As a freshman, I had a hard time saying no — I was scared of letting people down or making bad impressions. Receiving such welcoming invitations encouraged me to get connected with the community here: the invitation from my brother to come to worship, Natalie approaching me after my first worship and asking me to check out Music Team, and receiving invites in person and through email to attend freshman connection.

Feelings of apprehension, fear, or nervousness that I most certainly experienced when being in a new place and meeting new people are not what stuck with me four years later. What I remember from that time is how welcoming the people were, how I got connected with new friends, and how I found a place where I felt appreciated.

Don’t get me wrong though — I was still a shy and nervous freshman for a long while. Yet, I applied for council (once again because I was personally asked to) as the world was shutting down. And while my memory didn’t store much from the long months of quarantine, I remember how we as a council tried to make things work. From my sophomore year, I remember GatherTown, sitting in a large socially distanced circle in the chapel for midweek communion, worship outside on the patio, and the practice of play Minecraft server (Yes, this existed. Yes, I played on it.).

I remember how when we were finally able to start meeting in person regularly it felt so natural. Even when the Pres House community was all online, we were still able to make connections and friendships that translated so easily to in-person. I remember welcoming new faces during my junior and senior years, having fun at retreats, and making or strengthening my relationships with those around me. Specific details of conversations, dates of when events happened, or external stresses that I was experiencing at the time are lost, but the feelings of happiness, security, and friendship in those moments remain steadfast.

Looking back on my time at Pres House, I realize that I also don’t remember having any sort of brilliant moment of recognition that I was a true member of this community. It just happened so naturally.  And now it’s difficult for me to recall any time when I wasn’t part of Pres House or connected with so many of the wonderful people here.

So, even if your memory isn’t quite as bad as mine, remember the good people, places, and experiences — remember how they made you feel. Remember that many of those instances of awkward getting-to-know-you Q&As, uncomfortable lulls in conversation, and jokes that didn’t quite land will hopefully be forgotten in favor of the memories full of joy that make you feel happy, warm, and fulfilled. Countless of these types of memories have stemmed from my time and experience here, and I hope they will for you too. And I know that even though many of the little details have fallen through the cracks, I will never forget the feelings associated with this building, the activities we’ve done together, and most importantly the people — all of you. I will never forget Pres House or the feelings I have experienced here over the last 4 years: feelings of connection, friendship, and love.

Elizabeth is graduating with a B.S. in Food Science and a Certificate in Environmental Studies.

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