David Treadwell: Bowdoin College’s Galaxy of Stars

“As we speak, the ocean a few miles to the east is preparing to be filled with stars.

“When I got to Bowdoin, one of the first things I did was pile into a big white van with some strangers and drive off into the thick darkness of Maine for the vague promise of something. of ‘really cool.’ A hurricane was hitting my hometown on the North Carolina coast, and a different cyclone was brewing inside me – a terrifying lack of certainty about who I was and if that would be enough. So naturally, i buckled up, got stuck next to strangers and stumbled through pine trees on my way to snorkel in the black sea.

“There was no explanation of what was to follow. Just an invitation to jump. Once we did, the blue-green bloom of a thousand living, hot stars, following the motion of our heaving bodies, dancing in tandem with the burning sky. Adrift in utter strangeness and beauty so profound I was afraid to breathe and frighten her. I felt my littleness beating in my chest, unity filling my lungs. Certain that I was exactly where I needed to be.

Thus began the superb Baccalaureate speech (“A Luminous Endeavour”) given by Brianna Cunliffe, a member of the Bowdoin class of 2022. Brianna, a native of Wilmington, North Carolina, was our third host student to be chosen to deliver a speech during a back-to-school weekend. She was preceded by RaiNesha Miller from Birmingham, Alabama, who spoke on “Rising Through Fear” and Mamadou Diaw from New York, who titled her speech, “The Rubber Band Ball of Life”.

The list of names, majors, minors, and hometowns of senior graduates in the launch booklet reveals the extraordinary geographic and intellectual diversity of Bowdoin’s student body today. Major in Biochemistry/Minor in Theater from Pasadena, CA; Major in Mathematics and Physics/Minor in Film Studies from Nova Scotia, Canada; Major in Computer Science and African Studies from Cambridge, Massachusetts; classical major from Brunswick, Maine; major in mathematics/minor in economics from Rwanda; and major in Computer Science and Physics, minor in Hispanic Studies from Rockport, Maine. And so on.

Not exactly the Bowdoin of my grandfather William B. Kenniston (Bowdoin class of 1892) or my great-grandfather George B. Kenniston (Bowdoin class of 1861). Or even my son Jon Treadwell (Bowdoin class of 1990) And the significant changes have been quite positive.

By the way, we hosted Julie Hu, environmental studies and visual arts graduate and chemistry minor, from Beijing, China, for three days before she returned to China for the summer. A superb artist, Julie created illustrations for each of the chemical elements. For us, she created a great Chinese meal, consisting of garlic prawns, steamed eggs, cabbage soup and cabbage bacon.

We returned the favor by taking her to The Great Impasta and Gelato Fiasco. She patiently answered our questions about China – the cultural situation, history, dating scene, computer games, education, etc. – and we shared what it was like growing up in small white bread towns in the 50s and 60s. Julie will be pursuing a master’s degree at the highly selective Parsons School of Design in New York starting in September.

Incidentally, before graduation, we hosted Terry Zhang, a sophomore from Beijing, for a few days before returning to China.

We hosted Mamadou Diaw for one night between Julie and Terry’s visits. Mamadou, who now works for Fidelity in Boston, spent over a year with us during the pandemic.

We had dinner with Mamadou and his sister, Awa Diaw at Shere Punjab over the Reunion Friday weekend. Awa, who currently lives in Paris while working for Microsoft, is currently president of the Bowdoin Alumni Council. And Mamadou now belongs to the new Black Alumni Association of Bowdoin College.

Awa, the circle returns, had mentored RaiNeesha Miller (our host student and former Beginnings speaker), when they were both on campus.

I recently learned that a group of polar bears is sometimes called a “celebration”. Tina and I are delighted that we currently have two granddaughters in Bowdoin (Karis Treadwell and Emma Barker) and we happily celebrate the many polar bears in Bowdoin, a galaxy of stars, which we have known since returning to Brunswick there Also 20 years old. like, of course, my former classmates from the class of 1964.

David Treadwell, a writer from Brunswick, welcomes comments and suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns. [email protected]

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