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Tom and Betty: An Evening Reflection

Hi guys, welcome to the inaugural typecast of Tom and Betty. Unlike Tom and Jerry, or Ben and Jerry’s (Vermont’s finest), we have less violence and less calories, but are just as sweet a combination. Today we’re summarising our experience at orientation before we jet off for India tomorrow morning.

BETTY: Sensing any subtle architectural differences, Tom? Some Geordie jealousy toward American perfectionism, perhaps?

TOM: Yeah it’s quite strange being in surroundings modelled on parts of my own country for orientation. Is it perfect or lacking in quaint character, that’s for you to decide.

BETTY: What’d you find most interesting about Princeton?

TOM: Definitely the people. It’s been a pleasure to meet everyone involved in the Bridge Year orientation programme. We all come from such diverse backgrounds yet have a shared interest in service and travel. We’ve had a load of interesting conversations and have got to know each other, and we’re both extremely excited to start our Indian adventure and to return to campus next fall and share our memories with other Bridge Year cohorts.

BETTY: Do you think this early exposure campus–the multitude of academic and non-academic opportunities being flaunted at you–has swayed your attention from India in any way?

TOM: I wouldn’t say it’s swayed my attention from India at all, but it’s certainly reminded me of all the great things I have waiting for me to dive into when I get back here next year. For example, I had never even considered a certificate programme in South Asian Studies when I got back to Princeton next year but it’s definitely on the cards for me now.

BETTY: Why service? Why India? Why now?

TOM: Why not? A programme like Bridge Year is all I’ve ever wanted to do long before I had ever even heard of Princeton, so when I found out about about the opportunity I had to accept it with open arms. I hope the building of positive relationships will enable me to learn about myself and how I will define success in the future. In turn, I hope this will point me in the direction of how I can best pursue these goals at Princeton.

BETTY: How many attempts at destroying Logan’s Geordie-to-English dictionary have you made?

TOM: Well, I’d start by arguing that I speak English and Logan, in fact, speaks American, but that’s a different story. I hadn’t anticipated how much of a culture shock it would be for me even just during orientation in America, but I’ve actually really enjoyed surrounding myself with people who, in certain ways, are quite different to myself. I’m looking forward to going through the 9 months with these people, as it definitely creates a new dimension for my personal bridge year experience.

BETTY: The association with personal identity, rightfully made to reap the effects of international service, can sometimes stand in direct contradiction with the dissociation which it takes to fully immerse oneself in their community of service. Does this resonate with you? If so, how might you go about handling it?

TOM: I guess I’d have to start here by saying that I’m not overly fond of the word “service.” At least, not in my personal context. That’s not to say that I’m not heading to India to give myself and my efforts to an concept greater than myself, just that to assume I, as an individual, have anything worthwhile to offer as I am now would be foolish. I’m particularly fond of a quote that I have encountered throughout orientation a few times, and it goes like this: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” I don’t believe I have an overbearing sense of personal identity, so I am definitely prepared to dissociate myself into local communities and cultures, as I genuinely hope that a portion of that culture will dissolve into my own personality.

Well, that’s all from us right now. As I hope you can tell, myself, Betty and the rest of BYI 10.0 are seriously excited for our year ahead, so stay tuned for more updates as they come in!