To my fellow Yalies,
Most people collect coins, or stamps, or cards. As a writer, I collect stories. I have a list on my phone with strange anecdotes from my friends and family, adventures they’ve embarked on or funny situations they’ll never forget. I weave these stories into my poems and plays and screenplays like little Easter eggs for those in the know.
I wonder about the stories that I’ve discovered about myself here at Yale. I remember being strangely moved when I read a book for class about the very area I grew up in: a historic ethnic enclave in Southern California. Never did I imagine that my hometown had a story worthy of study. I’ve found stories about my heritage in college teas and cultural houses, at mooncake festivals hosted by the Asian American Cultural Center and “Just Dance and Dumpling” nights in my residential college’s dining hall. In hallowed spaces, I’ve dived into old and new stories about my spiritual identity. Through p-sets, I learned the story of the natural world. With every essay, I dive into the work of great scholars and artists and trailblazers–all of whom I’ve never met. Yet it feels like these stories have always been in my bloodline. The stories you have collected over the years may be different from mine, but I know they have shaped you all the same.
There are stories too that we created here that became a part of other people’s narratives. Often unbeknownst to us, our day-to-day movements enfolded into stories other people collected. It may have been your ridiculous sprint across Old Campus to greet a friend. It may have been the hours you spent serving the soup kitchen or planning a march. It may have been the time you, a total stranger, helped me carry my heavy suitcases up five flights of stairs in Lawrence, or the time you stopped on the street to help me after my scooter accident, or the time you randomly handed me, a stranger, a rose on the steps of Woolsey Hall.
Four and a half years here at Yale taught me that while we collect stories, we are also given the opportunity to write. High school me would’ve never dreamed of certain plot points of the story I’ve carved through these last four years, from diving into the world of dance, to completing two theses, to even something as simple and fun as scootering to class. I’ve discovered many of you and wrote you as main characters into my storyline, transforming suitemates, co-leads and professors into friendships that will last a lifetime. I’ve etched places into my heart: the warmth of our Christian ministry house, the blinding lights of Broadway, the strangely tiled floors of my residential college Stiles. In many ways, Yale is synonymous with home.
This story, however, is coming to an end. Four years ago, I stepped into the world of Yale through Phelps Gate; in a matter of a few weeks, I will exit Yale through the same archway as a changed person: someone with so many new stories—yours and mine—to cherish forever. These past four years have been so precious, this experience discovering our stories together, walking alongside one another, and for that, I’m forever grateful.
Me in my first year in front of Phelps Gate.
Me in my last year in front of Phelps Gate.