By Emma Enoch
Sterling College: How adorable the quaint white village is, how green the trees are and how vibrant every beautiful human (literally everyone!) seems to be… is it Heaven? No, it’s Craftsbury Common.
Because of Sterling’s rural location, one might wonder, “what is there to do in Craftsbury?” To which I reply, “what isn’t there to do?”
Hidden beside white mountains, behind tall evergreens and inside a magic wonderland, people from all over the world are working on something big at Sterling College: community.
Once in Craftsbury, you soon realize there is no cellphone reception. This can be startling for about three seconds, until you realize everyone teaches, appreciates, and respects communication. Instead of sitting in your dorm-room texting your friend across campus, you can grab your roommate and head on over. Person to person. Not only does it give you the chance to explore the vast Vermont night-sky, but better connects you with the campus and student life. On your way over to that friends house, maybe you stumble across a circle of folks drinking tea and talking about posthumanism in the soft grass. You decide to join and then learn there is a contra dance in Montpellier the next day and that they happen every other Saturday throughout the school year. Maybe you’ve never been to a contradance, or maybe you’ve been doing it your whole life, but you decide you want to go and you love it. You end up loving it so much that you ask someone, “Hey, we should have a contra dance at Sterling. Does that ever happen?” To your surprise they answer, “Parents’ Weekend is next week and there is one then, and don’t forget about the Talent Show the following night.” One night you’re sitting on your bed reading your Ecology book when you realize, wow, there is always something going on at this school.
As the crisp fall air whispers “good morning” to you on your walk to breakfast, so do the members of Sterling College’s Sky Runners Running team. At breakfast, you forget that it’s only 7:30 in the morning, and stop to appreciate the fact that you recognize everyone strewn about the round, wooden tables. It starts to feel like family. On your way to class, you decide to grab a cup of tea from the kitchen, and hear some students talking about a movie night they’re going to have- “We’re going to watch a film about what Transgender means, and don’t worry, we’re serving brownies.” After your morning class, you decide to take a walk down to the farm to see the horses. When you get there, someone’s already down there. They greet you with a bright smile and ask you about your day. Suddenly you’re engaged in a meaningful conversation about what it means to live a sustainable life, what permaculture actually means, and the fact that you should feel no shame for once not knowing what “permaculture” meant. It’s almost time for dinner so the two of you decide to walk through the sugar bush together and loop back up to the dining hall. That night, you’re invited, along with the rest of the community, to a cheese party in Merlin (residence hall). Before you leave, someone announces that there is a yoga class being held at 6:30 the next morning before breakfast. Not only are you tired from the fact that you’re so stuffed with Sterling-College-love, but you’re starting to wonder if this is one of the most important places you’ll ever visit. It’s 9:30pm, you have farm chores the next morning- it’s time for bed. You fell asleep sleeping that night, and also the next night because you went to game night that was held at a professor’s house where you ate so many homemade doughnuts that you almost couldn’t make it back home. Your friends carried you with their spirits, you stuck spoons on each other’s faces after you finished off the delicious coconut ice cream you picked up during your third run to the General Store down the hill.
If one were to describe the culture at Sterling College, it would go a little something like this…A grocery list of a few astounding ways Sterling College creates culture through community:
- Three meals a day with everyone at the school- students, faculty, and staff
- Community meeting every Wednesday- everyone sits in a circle, passing cookies, smiling, crying, and sharing. Respectfully communicating what’s on your mind is most important during these meetings. There is time to vocalize any issues and awarenesses, announcements, and appreciations.
- Meditation circle every day of the school week before lunch to recenter and breathe.
- Favor (our Dean of Community)
Sharing many laughs, adventures, and common love of the outdoors, students fill their days with songs around a crackling fire, collaborating on garden projects, making food, studying food, sustainability, and environmental stewardship. Blissful and exuberant times are had for all, whether it be through gracefully falling off one of our tall green bikes, playing frisbee on the common, skiing at the Outdoor Center, or sitting in the sun, a student’s life at Sterling College is a balance between hard work, accountability, self-care, laughs, and community.