Dear Harvard College Parents and Guardians,
We are off to a great start. It was especially rewarding to hear a freshman at an Open House at the Dean’s residence last week, citing the mission of Harvard College. She not only seemed very clear about the value of a residential liberal arts and sciences education, but pointed to the personal transformation she was already experiencing.
Every year we assign readings to the incoming class and organize entry-way-based discussions facilitated by a faculty member, administrator, proctor, or upperclass student about the readings. This year’s assignment focused on the topic of personal and social identities and the danger of a single story as expressed by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in a TED talk. Our hope was that students would see the multitude of ways they might describe themselves, and, in avoiding a single narrative, be contributing to a sorely needed conversation about the commonness of our experiences, rather than the differences that are so often misunderstood and frequently alienating.
We have had some heartening reports about this year’s assignment and follow-up discussions. Nefyn Meissner, a proctor in Greenough, shared recently that the peer advising fellow, Yesenia Jimenez, who led his group’s conversation was instrumental in getting people talking and examining who they are, how they have evolved over time, who they want to be in the future, and how Harvard – and the amazingly diverse students it attracts – can be a part of the personal transformation on which hinges so much of the College’s mission.
I hope that you are getting positive reports from your student, and that you will feel free to call or write with any concerns or ways we can be helpful. If you are able to come to Cambridge, it will be our pleasure to welcome you.
Dean of Freshmen