My name is Tony Hans Huynh and I am alumnus of the Middlebury College Class of 2013. When someone asks if I enjoyed my time in college, I’ll smile and say, “It was filled with ups and downs, but ultimately rewarding.” I know I say that, because it’s been the same line I have been using for people asking me about my time abroad. I don’t think one sentence could fully satisfy every emotion that I have felt over these past 4 years.
It is here in the college on the hill where I mastered Chinese, had my first kiss, had my first boyfriend(s), and understood more of my racial, sexual, and gender identities. College was supposed to be a fresh start. I had never been wildly popular in school. I was cast off as a nerd and made fun of for being gay (though I wasn’t out). But Middlebury was the fresh start. I did what any overzealous student would do: I friended nearly the entire class on Facebook. I chatted with a lot of people online and met a good deal of them the first few weeks of the freshman year. I credit my intense friending to why I eventually ended up with a group of friends who spanned different commons, majors, and why my circle of friends rarely overlapped. Freshman year was spent on me worrying about whether I was truly going to fit in. Was this really going to be the place for me? But by the time I was a senior, I knew who my true friends were. I hung out with fewer people, but pushed them for deeper conversations and insights. Tell me what your long-term goals are, why you think intimacy and relationships can be more telling of yourself than the other, and why you feel the same disillusionment with the campus as well.
It’s been a few days since I left college for good. And already so many memories are beginning to fade away. I can remember College St. and the way the trees swayed as I walked down to Munroe, brushing against the railing as I walked down the stairs to Chinese class. It’s weird for me to get so nostalgic. I was watching a clip of the finale of The Office and a character mentions that every single day he came into work, he would hate it, but yet, why is it so hard to say goodbye? I spent the greater portion of the past 4 years critiquing Middlebury in every aspect, yet why was it so hard to leave? I think regardless of one’s opinion of Middlebury, it’s a place where I called home for 4 years. And I’ve grown up so much there, in spite of this community sometimes. And that’s very hard to let go. It was different when I was leaving for study abroad, because then I knew I would come back to this college on the hill. I will never go back to Midd as a student ever. It’s a difficult sentence to write as so much of my future is so uncertain. I am now an unemployed recent graduate. Single to boot.
That 6 hour plane ride from Boston to San Francisco was inspiring. I spent the first 4.5 hours crying and being extremely nostalgic. And then I remembered that I was starting the rest of my life. A life filled with family responsibilities, rent, and struggling to make it up in the corporate world while still hoping to have a decent dating life and friends outside of work. I’m confident I can make it work, I think. After all, I had a very fulfilling social life at Middlebury my last year here, when I was producing so much work, so whose to say it won’t transfer with me into the real world?
I’m beginning to discover things about the real world again that I missed. Things like reading the New York Times on a regular basis, pleasure reading, and eating at different ethnic restaurants (I had Cambodian for dinner tonight). But, part of me yearns for my college friends. I wish I could have said more. First, I would have thanked them for enriching my life. In these 4 difficult years, my closest friends provided support and comfort as I dealt with personal insecurities, relationships, and schoolwork. I hoped it was two way. However, more importantly, my best friends pushed my ideologies and the way I conceived of the world. Thanks to my queer friends, I learned more about queer undercurrents and movements. There is something beyond the GLB in the acronym, after all. I was also pushed to defend and talk more strongly about my identities. My class, race, and sexual identity have become more salient yet fluid throughout my time here. To put it simply, I never knew how queer, poor, and Asian I was until I went to a school that was 70% white American.
Middlebury gave me the perspective I needed. They helped me realize the true value for family, living in diverse populations, and what I valued about the urban and rural lifestyles. In high school, I was the snotty valedictorian who perceived himself better than others. After four years of college, I think I’ve grown more humbled by my friends and understood more of my background and where I came from. There still so much for me to learn, but I think my experiences at Middlebury have better equipped me to look into them more insightfully. So, thank you Middlebury. You may still suck for being transfixed on appealing to the white, upper-middle class prep school scene and ignoring those underrepresented groups you hold on a pedestal during admissions, but you’ve given me a place to grow and challenge how I view the world. So, with mixed experiences, I move onward. Here’s to the future!
This will be my last blog post on Snapshots of a Life, which was created to document my experiences and feelings during my time in college. For those of you interested in reading more as I transition into the next stages of my life, please follow my new blog, The Long Road Home. I have actually never reread most of my posts since I’ve published them here. Maybe one day in the future, I will crack open the archives and see how I really felt these past 4 years. It’s been one hell of a ride, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have.
Until we meet again,