A Few of My Favorite “A Few of My Favorite Things”

Since September, I have had the honor and joy of profiling arts students as part of the “My Favorite Things” series. With laughter and poignancy, we discussed everything from how to adjust a reflecting telescope to how to find the theater’s prop room, and from why Disney songs are the best study music to the different varieties of beans in Commons.

The final question I asked each person I spoke to was to name their favorite life lesson they have learned from their art. This was almost invariably the most difficult question, and every student took plenty of time to consider. But by sitting silently with their thoughts, each managed to offer wisdom gleaned from activities not typically geared towards soul-searching.

As we leave academic classes behind — at least for three weeks or so — these students remind us that keeping an open mind and heart can often lead to deep knowledge gained from unlikely sources. Here, compiled as a reminder of the things we’ve learned this semester even as we haven’t realized we’re learning, are eight arts students’ responses to the question: What is the most important life lesson you have learned from what you do outside of the classroom?

Lucie Green ’23, Executive Director of the Robinson Players (student-run theater):

“In high school, I used to tell people that I learned more in stage crew than I learned in school. What theater has done for me is that it’s taught me how to be vulnerable in collaborative spaces, when I’m a very solitary, independent person. And it’s really helped me kind of connect to basic human nature.”

Maddy Ewell ’24, founder and President of Bates Small Ensembles (chamber music):

“There’s always something to learn from your peers. And that’s something that gets overlooked in taking academic courses, where … there’s a right answer in a lot of those cases. … In chamber music, everybody’s going to have a different idea of how to musically interpret something … Everybody kind of has to put their ideas in. It’s like a melting pot. Everybody’s contributing. … You might think you’re right, and then you’ll play it the other person’s way, and you’re like, oh, that actually does work. It tells this story in a different way …. Let’s combine all our ideas and try everything out.”

Maria Gray ’23, editor-in-chief of Snaggletooth literary magazine:

“Nothing you do is ever done, but that’s okay, and that doesn’t mean that working on it isn’t worthwhile.”

Hailey Stephens ’23 and Linnéa Selendy ’23, co-leaders of 2BEATS (student-led hip-hop group):

Hailey: “It’s always going to be passion over talent, every time. When you have passion, that talent grows, and then you can become very talented. But if you’re talented and don’t have passion, that plateaus. If you want to do something, you can always do it with persistence … Anything that you can put your mind to, you can do.”

Linnea: “It’s okay to be different … Every time I would go to the [dance] studio, it was an opportunity to embrace your weirdness and put it into a form of creation.  … I can apply that to anything, really. Being different is good.”

Anne Jennings ’23 and Isabel May ’23, curators of the Instagram account @RealCommonsSoupReviews:

Anne: “The origin was that we were self conscious to get soup like we wanted. Sometimes you’re socially anxious about something or just a little nervous, but if that’s what you want, you should go for it! … People are not looking at what you’re doing and analyzing your every step.”

Isabel: “Connecting with other people is so much simpler than it feels like. … I used to be more socially anxious at the idea of talking with the men’s [cross-country] team because we would not talk to them a lot … But now it’s like I don’t feel weird going up to them [and asking them to review soups for us]. They’re always happy to talk to us. Something as simple as soup bridges a community.”

Jade Emerald Pinto ’25, founder and President of the Bates Astronomy Club:

“The most important lesson I feel like I learned was not to hold yourself to the same standard as people, especially from their past, but realize that you are in the same place as them now. … I went to an art [high] school, and transitioning from art school to being a physicist is hard. Coming into Bates and [seeing that] everyone’s so smart … that can be a damper on your self-esteem. But it’s like, I’m the president of the astronomy club now! It doesn’t matter who took what math course in high school. We’re all Batesies and we’re all here and we’re all stargazing together.”

As we celebrate a successful end to the semester, the Arts & Leisure team encourages you to remember what you and your classmates have learned outside of the classroom this semester: to be vulnerable; to listen; to trust the process; to persevere passionately; to celebrate your weirdness; to do what you want; to fearlessly forge connection; to look up together. We wish you a safe and festive Winter Break, and we cannot wait to see you in January.