Communities Olivia Schaaf
Theater as a home away from home
On choosing Marlboro
Although I grew up in Germany I first learned about the college from my mom, who graduated from Marlboro in 1978 and studied music and voice. Like my mom, I also went to a Steiner school in America, and she told me that Marlboro was very similar—it is very community-based and attempts to integrate all individuals and find the strength in each and every person, that they can then use to make the community stronger. That is just something that truly makes me feel comfortable with the people I am studying with and the people I am living with.
On getting to know the college
No matter how much you visit Marlboro or hear about Marlboro, you cannot know what it is really all about unless you have been here and experienced your first winter, and experienced what it really means to grow together as a community. And that is a really strong and comforting feeling. I came here and have felt at home, while being so very far away from home.
On academics at Marlboro
I was really worried in the beginning, because English is my second language. I was concerned I would be completely overwhelmed by writing and reading, but the amount of help you get here from faculty and peers is incredible. You never feel left alone, or that there is something you have to accomplish by yourself. My German school had very high standards for academic methods and schemes, and it turns out I can very much apply the rigorous German methods of academics to what is going on here at Marlboro.
On theater and literature
My primary interest in theater is directing. Whittemore is a beautiful theater: It reflects in its architecture what theater at Marlboro is all about. Everyone surrounds the happenings of the theater and is much involved in the space. Theater here can definitely be a lot of fun and very experimental. At rehearsals, students can really contribute what they think is important to the play. I like that a lot, because I do believe theater is a community effort.
I study English and American literature because I feel that I can better understand a culture when I know a lot about its literature. I do know a lot about American culture, but of course there is a lot more to learn. I am also taking Moral Philosophy this semester, which is very important in terms of character studies. Anything you touch at Marlboro can help you with your Plan of Concentration.
On social life at Marlboro
I found people that, by now, are so very dear to me. It’s incredible, but it’s also kind of sad, because if I go back to Germany after I graduate I am going to be really upset. On the other hand, when I have children back in Germany I can send them over here to stay with the friends I have made, and they can send their children to stay with me in Germany to visit as well, which is what my mom did with me. It establishes great cultural diversity and change.
On advice for new students
Don’t be scared—ever—because there is probably no other place in the world where you are as free as Marlboro College. Not only that all buildings are open at night, but you can walk into administration with a problem and people will listen to you and say, ‘let’s see how we can get this to work.’ Never be afraid to ask questions or voice concerns, because they will definitely be heard here.