Observer’s Notebook

Yale Campus

My acting professor Toni Dorfman is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. Whether she is describing how the dappled light fell through the leaves or giving us our next assignment, every word from her tongue is like poetry: intentional and impactful. She has a keen eye for details and interactions that she incorporates into her acting. She constantly pushes us to observe our immediate surroundings instead of our screens. “There is nothing more interesting than the humans right in front of you,” she told us once. I’ve started seeing the world the way she does, and I wanted to share with you some notebook entries I’ve expanded on here:

My roommate singing her heart out on stage at her concert, performing with her folk band Tangled Up in Blue. Though it sounds beautiful and perfect to me, something has gone wrong in her duet with her partner–they turn to each other and laugh as they exit the spotlight. She squeezes her eyes shut when she laughs, a warm glow filling her cheeks.

Band performance
My roommate, left, playing the viola at a Tangled Up in Blue concert.

A knock on the door. The swish of the plastic bag as a friend hands me medicine I didn’t ask for but desperately needed at the time. This bag of cough drops and vitamins is what will pull me through the rest of that week.

Zipping by friends and strangers alike on my scooter and the rush of adrenaline I’m now addicted to. “You’re so cool,” my friends laugh as I roll up on my two wheels.

They see me rollin’…

My classmate defending himself like the world’s best lawyer in a game of 3D Mafia when accused of being the bad guy, the way he prays for the student body at a retreat. This is a future politician and preacher in the making.

My friend’s puffer jacket, so distinct I can spot her a mile away. We don’t get to see each other often, but she was the first friend I made at Yale through a pre-orientation program, and a friendship we keep alive through intentionality: grabbing meals, delivering surprises to each other’s dorms, holding creative writing sessions together.

Biting into a Yale cheeseburger, fresh off the grill. Juicy, cheesy, flavorful: pure satisfaction.

My friend and former suitemate praying: beautifully phrased, heartfelt words to God. Last year, we joined Christian Union, one of the student ministry groups on campus. This year, we are both in leadership positions as Vice-President of Community Life and Outreach Coordinator. We have grown in our friendship and walk with God together.

Christian Union Outreach Table
Outreach event with Christian Union: serving ice cream on Cross Campus!

Pulling off an event for my cultural club, the Chinese American Students Association (CASA). The subsequent elation at its success. The warmth from seeing people gathered to celebrate their heritage, whether it’s enjoying an artistic performance or learning how to hand make dumplings.

serving mooncakes at an event
Students serving mooncakes the Mooncake Festival! Courtesy Nathan Chang.

The rosy cheeks and bright eyes of frosh I take under my wing, whether it is through CASA, Christian Union, or my residential college’s Big/Little Sibs program, where each frosh is paired with an upperclassmen.

Multi-colored lights and fog machine at Vox Church, a five minute walk from Old Campus. Worship is, as the kids say, “lit.”

Vox Church worship.
Vox Church worship! Courtesy of Vox Church.

Dancing to the beat at a residential college ball like I never did in high school. How I’m able to let go and dance like nobody–and everybody–is watching.

residential college dance
Me and my Stiles little Sib at a residential college dance!

What awaits me at the end of a long day: my Peter Pan-themed room, a warm bed, and my roommate’s lovely smile.

Cassandra's dorm room.
My home sweet dorm.