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What If the Route You See is Not the Route You (Could) Take

Barbara's picture

I walked along the Labyrinth and enjoyed the mild, delightful sunny day. The yellow leaves glowed in the sun. What a serene Sunday morning! Students walked around the campus; field hockey players were in a game; squirrels happily enjoyed the breakfast. The Bryn Mawr bubble created such a peaceful environment for each community member to thrive happily. The Labyrinth did have a complicated structure. The end looked so near at one point, but after I took a turn, the route led me to an outermost ring. Turn around and around, the sense of back and forth, close and far repeated again and again. I felt I was almost there, however, this was an illusion. Because the route I saw was not the route I walked on.

As a lot of private institutions in the US do, BMC created a lot of educational opportunities for students from different socioeconomic backgrounds to study in the same environment by funding for student grants and loans. Students are not denied the chance to pursue a higher education because they are not able to afford. It seems like the Bryn Mawr bubble eliminated the economic differentiation within the college community because courses, food, facilities are equally accessible to everyone. But the sad reality is even in a protective bubble like BMC, the economic differentiation is inevitable. The differentiation may be backgrounded, but it still plays a role in determining individual experience in college. If one doesn't need to work on campus, she will have more time for other activities. If one does not need to sustain herself soon after graduation, her college life might be more flexible than one who has to get a scholarship in graduate school. Nevertheless, these differences are not relevant to people's vital needs. Therefore, the gap might be made up by individual's extra effort. Still, it is evident that socioeconomic background influences one's experience. Leave alone the life out of the Bryn Mawr bubble where economic differentiation tends to be foregrounded. Social ranking is too deeply rooted in human community: even when we try to be equal, not all are allowed to make decisions out of the equal free will.

Back to the Labyrinth... There was only one ring between me and the end; I thought I was really close, almost there. But the route brought me away... I could see it, but I could not cross border. It might be I did not want to cheat, or I could not take the step.