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Student Spotlight | Indigo from CA

Written by Great Books on Friday, February 28, 2020

Student Spotlight | Indigo from CA

"If I had just one life lesson to encompass the four summers I have spent at Great Books, it would be that the challenging path is the one worth taking." - Indigo from CA

Giving a TED Talk is the goal of a lifetime for some people, but it requires a certain bravery to put yourself out there! For Great Books camper Indigo, a 10th-grade student in California, it was an exciting opportunity to try something new. Her topic, Technology, Teens, and Taking Responsibility, details why she prefers using a flip phone in today's high-tech world.

This multi-faceted teenager isn't afraid of a challenge. In fact, Indigo says she embraced the joys of risk-taking at Great Books. "If I had just one life lesson to encompass the four summers I have spent at Great Books, it would be that the challenging path is the one worth taking," she said.

That adventure-seeking spirit is also why Indigo was one of the first students to sign up for Great Books' new experiential program last year, Tales of the Sea: a Tall Ship Adventure.  “I wanted to give something new a shot. I thought that it would be fun and that I would make friends. What I didn't know was that I would make a second Great Books family on that ship, and come to absolutely fall in love with learning about what it means to be part of the crew on a Tall Ship. Now, I can't even imagine that the Tall Ship wasn't a part of my Great Books experience in the first place,” Indigo said.

"I can definitively say that my favorite part of Great Books is the people and the amazing, lifelong friends I have been able to make every summer… I do not know where I would be today if I hadn’t been able to connect with some of my now favorite people in the world."

This summer Indigo is returning for a week at Amherst followed by another week on the Tall Ship when it sets sail in Portland, ME on July 19.  “I think the beauty and magic of the Tall Ship can be best summed up in this description of a typical afternoon: a re-enactment of the opening scene of The Tempest  featuring the ship's crew, a riveting lecture about one of Walt Whitman's ocean-related poems interrupted by a large sunfish coming close to the ship, and the ending of lecture when we had to take down the mainsail for the night,” she said, adding “I love books, the ocean, and growing close to others through a shared experience.”

Indigo’s love of literature and adventure is why Great Books is a catalyst for growth every summer. Read more of her story in our Student Spotlight.

"No time in my life has taught me the lesson that a difficult challenge is better than anything that comes easy, than my time at Great Books."

What campus(es) did you attend?

"I have attended Great Books at the Stanford, Amherst, and Tall Ships campuses. This coming summer, I will be returning to the Amherst campus and also doing the Tall Ships program again, and I am already counting down the days until I return!"

What is your favorite part of Great Books?

"There are countless things I adore about Great Books—the lectures, the electives, and all the memories I’ve made there—but I can definitively say that my favorite part of Great Books is the people and the amazing, lifelong friends I have been able to make every summer. The bonds that I have made with the people I have met at Great Books are truly some of the most special friendships I have in my life, and I do not know where I would be today if I hadn’t been able to connect with some of my now favorite people in the world."

"My time at Great Books has made me who I am today and I cannot recommend it highly enough."

What life lessons did you take away from attending Great Books Summer Program? 

"Where do I even start? Some of my most formative moments have been spent at Great Books, so naturally I have learned so many things about both life and also myself during my time at Great Books. If I had just one life lesson to encompass the four summers I have spent at Great Books, it would be that the challenging path is the one worth taking. Whether it is choosing a literary or art elective that I’m not familiar with at all, or branching out to and forming a friendship with someone who I have not spent a summer with at Great Books before—or even going on a Tall Ship—no time in my life has taught me the lesson that a difficult challenge is better than anything that comes easy, than my time at Great Books."

What skills did you learn at Great Books?

"In addition to the crucial and useful skills of literary discussion, creative writing, and deeper analysis of texts that Great Books is famous for teaching their campers, I would say that a skill I learned at Great Books that I continue to embrace to this day is the skill of risk-taking within an academic setting. Because I felt supported by my fellow campers at Great Books, I was able to raise my hand frequently in lectures and contribute, even when I wasn’t sure if my ideas were necessarily correct."

"In high school, I have signed up for classes with subject matter that I’m not as familiar with, such as a furniture design class, and I attribute this entirely to my time at Great Books, which has taught me that the risks one takes in an academic setting are worth taking, and can prove to be very rewarding."

"A skill I learned at Great Book is the skill of risk-taking within an academic setting. Because I felt supported by my fellow campers at Great Books, I was able to raise my hand frequently in lectures and contribute, even when I wasn’t sure if my ideas were necessarily correct."

What surprised you about Great Books?

"Honestly, it was the deep and meaningful friendships I was able to form with my fellow campers that surprised me most of all. Going into the program, I was mostly just expecting a week of amazing literary discussion with other kids that actually cared as much about books and literature as much as I did. What I did not expect was that I would end up forming some of the most important friendships of my life there. It surprised me that even in just two weeks, I was able to form such deep connections with my fellow campers."

What electives did you take part in and what did you take away from it?

"My first summer, I chose a Meister Eckhart elective, because I had never heard of him, and walked out with a new favorite author and spiritual writer who I continue to read to this day. My second summer, I chose a Kurt Vonnegut elective and was able to leave with some of the most interesting discussions I have ever had, and a new appreciation for the genre of satire. My third summer, I chose an elective on the epistolary form, because though I love to write letters, I haven’t really read too many novels that take on this form of being composed of letters. Now after having taken this elective, I find myself more drawn to this form of literature and actively seek it out.

Last summer I took an elective called “mystery box” where we explored a completely random topic every day. I found that the sporadic nature of the elective allowed for exploration of some of the most random but also interesting ideas that I had not explored before, like performance art and slam poetry. The electives at Great Books have been some of the most rewarding spaces I’ve inhabited and I encourage anyone attending Great Books to sign up for not only what interests them but also what challenges them as well."

"It surprised me that even in just two weeks, I was able to form such deep connections with my fellow campers."

What advice would you give to current or perspective Great Books students on how to get the most out of the program?

  • Challenge yourself.
  • Do something you’ve never done before.
  • Disagree with people.
  • Don’t be afraid to be your fantastically nerdy self.

"Most importantly, cherish every moment because the week will be over before you know it and you’ll already be counting down the days until you return."

"My philosophy for choosing a literary elective is to always choose the one that I think will challenge me the most because I have found that Great Books is a perfect space to do just that."

What is your favorite book and why is it your favorite?

"Well, I do read one hundred books a year (literally—follow me on Goodreads!), but I would have to say War and Peace. The length of the novel really allows you to remain with the characters over the course of their entire lives and watch them grow and develop as people in a really unique and beautiful way. I find Tolstoy’s writing style to be so engaging and still feels modern and connects with me even centuries later after it was written."

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

"My time at Great Books has made me who I am today and I cannot recommend it highly enough."

Watch Indigo's Talk at TEDxYouth@SHC: Technology, Teens, and Taking Responsibility. Learn more Great Books campuses including the Tall Ship and Amherst programs.

Category : General Information


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