This weekend is Homecoming, which means there will be a lot of not-so-new faces joining us on campus over the next few days. Alumni will participate in class reunions, tours of new facilities, and hopefully many good meals (I hear there will be food trucks on Saturday).In honor of the occasion, I ventured downtown to Fables Books on Tuesday to look through some of Goshen College’s old yearbooks. I wanted to find pictures of my grandparents from their time at Goshen, mostly so I could see my grandma’s ‘60s updos, but also for a chance to look back on the history of the school that I call home.
The pictures were fascinating — I’ve never seen so many cardigans or square-rimmed glasses in one place — but the captions were even better. A picture of the Family and Community class in 1963 noted that course professor Dr. Hershberger promised “a grade of A to anyone getting married this semester.” We’ve come a long way, Goshen.
My personal favorite caption was below a picture of my grandpa’s recital in 1963, referring to his singing voice as a “cultivated tenor.” I sent him a picture, to which he texted back “SMH!” Touché, grandpa.
My yearbook perusal led to a full-fledged investigation, and I stayed up late that night to scroll through an online version of the 1994 book “Culture for Service: A History of Goshen College” by Susan Fisher Miller. I read that, from 1975-1976, purple bicycles were available for shared use all over campus. I learned that although dancing wasn’t allowed on campus until 1986, off-campus dances in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s attracted hundreds of students to engage in the taboo pastime (and one of the dances even took place at a nightclub in Michigan *gasp*). I even read about college soccer games in the ‘70s; apparently, it wasn’t unusual for half-times to include kazoo playing and marching, led by a quasi-drum major waving a toilet plunger as a baton. (Student section — we need to bring this back.)
I didn’t plan to spend hours broadening my admittedly limited knowledge of Goshen College, but that’s what ended up happening. And the experience made me think about all the ways in which this place that I call home, a place that has been here in Goshen, Indiana, since 1894, has been shaped by those who came before me.
Merriam-Webster defines the word “homecoming” as “the return of a group of people usually on a special occasion to a place formerly frequented or regarded as home.”
But I don’t think that “formerly” is necessary in all instances. I believe that we can have multiple homes coexisting in our hearts — places that we feel safe in, think about with affection and recall with a sense of belonging. Leaving one place and moving to another doesn’t mean that it’s no longer your home; it has simply imprinted itself on you, adding its name and shape to the long list that is your personal history.
I hope we can celebrate the places we call home this weekend, as friends and family reunite on campus to remember and relearn what they love about this school.
And to the alumni returning home to Goshen College, I’ll say — it’s always been an honor to walk the same paths you once walked on this campus, and it will be a joy to walk alongside you again this weekend. Welcome home.
(Also, I hope one of you brings a kazoo to the soccer game on Saturday.)