Communities Nancy Son
From the city to the woods
On transferring to Marlboro
I came from a large, urban university, where it just felt like high school again. Schools like that are geared towards US News Report rankings and checklists of “things you should be achieving.” I always resented that. I wanted a place that encouraged an exploration of yourself and your ideas in a freer way, in a more organic way. The admissions office at Marlboro was very honest. They didn’t use buzzwords like other places. There is openness here. The location also sold me. Vermont: trees, woods, rivers.
On sense of self and the city
Right now I think I am going down the path of environmental studies. The broad question, and I think a lot of people have this question here, is how do we interact with our environment? How does the individual interact with the built environment, the organic environment? I am thinking a lot about spirituality and religion as well: How do spirituality and sense of self play into an individual’s sense of place?
Lately, I am also thinking more about where I’m from, the city. I am becoming more interested in city design. It’s a very literal take on how the layout of living affects daily life. What is that makes a place home? I’m also learning a lot about political theory and philosophy. When you read people like Jane Jacobs on city design, about building the city from the ground up, it’s about building community, about communication.
On social life at Marlboro
Before I got here I would have asked: Is it racially and economically diverse? I am not saying that is unimportant to me now, but I forget about all those things when I am here. When you are talking about someone about Plan, you forget about all those other things. I feel I fit in because people here just love to talk, love to release these thoughts that are clouding around in their minds. The social scene here is always thinking.
Most of the time I do not feel like a minority here. Being of a different ethnic background brings about different experiences, but that’s what Marlboro is about: How are you bringing your experiences to your work and vice versa? And everybody is doing that here, regardless of ethnic background. The openness here is very conducive to more creativity, more self-exploration, as well as connectivity with other people who are thinking genuine thoughts. There’s something about this place that is very personal.
On advice for incoming students
Be honest about who you are. This is a school for people who want to take on the challenge of what they think and why they think it, to challenge the way they think. Marlboro isn’t about wandering, it’s about searching. Even if a class doesn’t go the way you want it here, all the professors here are fountains of resources. They can set the foundations for later work.