Prompted

Fall 2016

Prompt: Share a story about how a Grinnell professor — any professor — made an impact on your life.

My father died during my second year at Grinnell. That spring I took a class with a visiting professor from Taiwan. The week of my dad’s birthday, I emailed Professor [Mu-chou] Poo, saying that my deceased father’s birthday was coming up, that I was having a hard week and might miss class one day, but I would still hand in my paper on comparative death rites the following week.

I went to class on my dad’s birthday, carrying with me over 100 daisies of different colors. I asked people, “Would you like a flower? Snow, sunshine, or lavender?” I offered Professor Poo a daisy in honor of my father. He smiled and took one. 

At the end of the semester, Professor Poo had us all over to his house for a Taiwanese meal. When clearing my plate in the kitchen, I saw on the counter something beautiful, and one of my final memories of Grinnell — a little glass jar holding a single, crinkly, wilted daisy.

Summer 2016

Prompt: How or when did you know Grinnell was “home” for you?

During my first year at Grinnell, going home for the Jewish holidays at the end of September wasn’t an option, so I attended the student-led Rosh Hashanah services in Main Hall and felt homesick for the first time since I arrived on campus. Instead of spending the afternoon and evening enjoying home-cooked, traditional holiday foods with family and friends, I was bored and lonely in my third-floor Dibble Hall dorm room. Around dinner time, there was a knock on my door. It was my student adviser, Catherine Carter ’94, accompanied by all of my floor mates.

They couldn’t imagine being away from their families on one of their most important religious holidays, and they didn’t want me to spend my holiday alone. The entire floor was taking me out for a Rosh Hashanah dinner at Pagliai’s Pizza! It wasn’t home-cooked, it wasn’t traditional — of course, it wasn’t even kosher! — but it was perfect. And, that was when I realized I had made the right college choice — I was exactly where I belonged.