Io Maeda ‘24

Under the shiny, blue sky with no clouds, I often spent Thanksgiving Break alone sitting on a bench in the mall to immerse myself in nature. I relaxed while birds were chirping, winds were whistling, and squirrels were chasing each other.

The chapel bell rang on the hour as usual over the quiet campus. For whom the bell tolls? Then, my internal clock growled to let me know that it was time to eat dinner. However, I could not have dinner at the Sparks Center because it was closed. Almost all the buildings were closed except the Lilly Library and Williams Hall, where some students stayed on campus during the break. I went back to my room and heated up a plastic container in a microwave. I enjoyed eating the food that I cooked on Saturday at one time. Food put me in a good mood!

I had never cooked before until this summer break. I panicked at first when I knew that I had to survive the break without the Sparks. Fortunately, Dr. Koppelmann taught me the basic skills of cooking. Thanks to him, I was able to improve my skills to the point that I could cook Japanese cuisine for my personal enjoyment in the end. I have not gone back to Japan since last August, so cooking is now one of my favorite hobbies to feel nostalgia while I am in the U.S.

There were other students on campus to engage in their summer internships in Crawfordsville, instead of commuting. Therefore, I did not feel alone as the laundry and the kitchen were messy. Isn’t it strange that the dormitory became dirtier in the break than during the semester?

Although the garbage cans filled up with paper bags and boxes from local fast food, I saw some students cooking in the kitchen. One student was cooking based on his mother’s recipe. However, most of the time, the students had simple dishes by boiling pastas or cooking bacons and eggs. It seemed that they did not enjoy cooking, as their faces seemed unhappy.

I discovered that cooking can be an important practice for the students to get ready for their independent life in the future. It involves finances through shopping, critical thinking through reading recipes and time management through working efficiently. That is why our mother is someone that we can depend upon whenever we need help.

Cooking is hard at first, but you can eventually improve it like I did. However, some students did not try cooking at all. The worst case I saw was that one student prepared his dinner by just heating up frozen food in the microwave. It did not happen just one day, but several times during the break. His main excuse was that he did not have time to cook. Well, I remember that you like watching Netflix before going to sleep?

I hear complaints against the food at Sparks. However, I wonder if the students were satisfied with the food that they cooked for themselves. Sometimes their diets were unbalanced lacking vegetables. Tell me what is the difference? There was a period that the Sparks Center was open during the Wabash Liberal Arts Immersion Program (WLAIP) Summer Institute. All of the participants and mentors lived in Rogge Hall which is next to Williams Hall. I think it was a great opportunity for the incoming freshmen to start their independent pre-College life apart from their parents. However, they had the privilege of eating at the Sparks Center unlike the students who were in Williams Hall. Why did the College treat us differently?

I was fine because cooking became my hobby to kill time in the middle-of-nowhere Crawfordsville. If not, then I would not have spent more than 6 hours every Saturday cooking for the other six-day meals. However, I wish I had more time to relax on the weekend because I worked hard as a journalist during the weekdays (and sometimes I had to work on the weekends too!). Saturday was a cooking day. Therefore, Sunday was the only the day that I could rest, which was not totally enough.

I think I was the only student who genuinely enjoyed cooking during the break. Other students cooked as a necessary chore to survive. It would have been better if the Sparks Center was open to the students during the break to help them maintain good health in such an unpredictable time. The students tried to have their independent lives by themselves, but the lack of experience with cooking took its tull as the break went on. I hope that the College will let the Sparks Center open during the break.