On January 3rd , I flew back to Asheville from my home in Florida to attend a class I’d been looking forward to since freshman year, the Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing residency. I was blessed to be accepted into the January residency along with eight other undergraduate creative writing majors who had applied to the program back in October. We spent nine days living on this beautiful campus with MFA graduate students and faculty members, immersing ourselves in craft lectures, evening readings, and daily workshops that pushed the boundaries of the forms the written word could take.
Despite the extremely cold weather and the polar vortex kicking us off campus for one night, I found the entire experience idyllic, and during that ten-day period I found myself falling in love with this campus: the mountains seemed more glorious, the buildings seemed more adorable, and there was a sense of peace and order that seemed to seep into the daily functions of the campus. I had time to focus on what I love, the craft of writing, without the usual Wilson demands on my time such as work, service, clubs and social life. I honestly found myself wishing I could stay in the MFA environment and that regular Wilson life would hold off and give me just a little more time with the mountains, the beautiful words and the freedom to do whatever I wanted outside of the MFA classes.
When students began to appear I found myself dreading the slow unwinding of my relaxing and inspiring time with the MFA program. It showed me an idealized version of our community and I didn’t want to let it go. Then, my friends came back; we hugged, laughed and shared all our winter break stories, and I thought that perhaps letting go of my MFA heaven wouldn’t be so bad.
Then I saw the leaked e-mail about tuition raises and budget cuts on the Facebook Confessions of An Owl page and received the email about the upcoming Martin Luther King Day events on campus. Although the latter was wonderful, it reminded me of this campus’ struggles last year with racial tensions. I remembered all of Wilson’s problems, and I was disheartened. After falling in love with Wilson over the MFA again, the issues surrounding this community discouraged me, and I felt my MFA sanctuary slipping away.
Classes and work began and, as a double major completing two senior projects right now, my stress level began to rise immediately. I thought about how much simpler it was during the MFA. Yet as the week progressed and I saw all of the crews beginning to work around campus once more and I fell into my rhythm with my classes, I regained the feeling of having an overloaded yet distinctly Wilson lifestyle.
I went to classes, working on projects and subjects I’m passionate about; I started working on The Echo and planning this issue; I began Step Team practice; I began working my second job, starting sipping wine during study time with my suitemates, bundled up for the snow and ran from one thing to another all day. I found my Wilson pace again. And while in the back of my mind I’m still day dreaming about the amazing ten-day MFA residency, I realized something about this place I’ve called my home-away-from-home for the past four years: yes, Wilson is messy, flawed and exhausting; yes, we’re far from a perfect institution and we have obstacles to overcome in the next few months, but we’re Wilson.
We thrive in the oddities and messiness of our college. We, as a community of flawed individuals striving to find our own ways to make the world a better place, each in turn make each other and this community a better place.
If everything here were smooth, glossy and perfect– well, we wouldn’t be Wilson and we wouldn’t be us. And although I loved my time at the MFA residency, and although it was almost like being at another school for a little while, I wouldn’t trade my time in the chaotic and loving community that is the Warren Wilson undergraduate college for anything in the world.