I haven't really talked about the new yearlings, yet. I've been making an effort to get to know them and I've got pretty much all the names down now. I've had some good conversations with many of them.
There are the usual weird name double-ups, notably three guys named Michael and one woman, Michelle. Fortunately, only one of the guys actually goes by Michael (the one in my dorm). The other two go by Mike and Mickey, respectively. We have a single new Raven, in addition to the one Raven remaining from my yearling group, and a new Nora, too. I know that sounds weird, to say a Nora and a Raven, like people with a given name are commodities or something, and that's not what I mean. But there are two students here named Nora now, so how else am I supposed to say it?
The new Nora is interesting. She's only twenty, but somehow she tested out of half the program. She'll only be here two years. She was in college before and has a lot of transferable credit, plus she has an active spiritual practice--she's Christian and she's an athlete. That all takes some doing. She's on the food service team, but wants to be a doctor.
"Only twenty." That makes it sound like I'm so much older. I'm not, of course. But when I came here I had almost nothing that would transfer. I can understand how you can build up a lot of advanced standing if you come here and you're thirty or something, but...basically, I'm impressed.
Anyway, we're going through the same acculturation process we do for every group of yearlings, using gentle suggestion and reminders and conversation to make them of us without their noticing we're doing anything deliberately at all. They'll figure it out next year.
Steve Bees is figuring it out now.
This is his second year and his last year--he'll graduate with me, making us part of the same class, in a weird way. He's changed a lot since I first became aware of him. He has this drive, now. The whole campus pays more attention to social justice issues because of him, he really pushes to learn what he needs to, and he does it in such a way that everyone else learns, too. He doesn't just ask questions, he asks Greg to do talks on the subjects he wants to hear, and then he makes sure other people show up. He says things in this way where it doesn't seem at all confrontational, except that you can't get what he said to you out of his mind. None of the rest of us can do that. Not even all the masters can.
Anyway, the other day over lunch, after the people, mostly yearlings, we'd been sitting with got up to leave, he made a kind of "huh" sound and spoke, without looking at me.
"We're not just chatting with them are we?" he said. "We're teaching them. And you taught me."
"Well, not me personally very much," I admitted, "but yes. None of us spend long enough here for this place to be this weird accidentally."
"You can make a culture, make a society." He sounded very impressed.
"Then, I suppose all societies are made. The world is what we make it be."
"Yes, I suppose so."
"We should make a better one, then."