I don’t know about you all but I was more than excited to come home. Many are excited about seeing family, picking up wherever we left off, others to see friends, and for most, it’s reuniting with a home-cooked meal. While I am excited about all those things, I am also very excited about reconnecting with my community. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing like Happy Valley, but there’s a distinct difference between the people you see on the CATA bus, and the MTA bus.
I get a different feeling in my stomach when I board the Megabus in State College to when I board the train in New York and I realize it’s because I’m reminded of something. My Grandmother always says, “Eyes are always watching, so be careful what you do”. Of course she was talking about the people at church who like to keep their eyes on the young girls and boys to make sure they don’t wander off, however, what she says rings true even outside of church. Here at Penn State, I believe the eyes of my Advisor, my RA, and even the distant eyes of my parents are watching, a familiar pressure, but at home it’s a different story.
I remember telling my family and friends I was going to Penn State. The reactions I received ranged from “That’s in Pennsylvania right?” to “That’s amazing! Make us proud!” The watching eyes of the people who said the latter are the reason for the change in the feeling in my stomach. Let me explain what I mean.
I spent Thanksgiving break at my cousin’s house, and due to a series of unfortunate events I missed my bus home. “I’ll just catch the one on Tuesday”, I said. “And miss school? No Mia, not you.” Then she offered me a ride to school (that’s a 4 hour trip by the way). On the trip back I asked her why she put all this effort into making sure I got to school on time. She said that she was counting on me, that I had to be successful, and that she would be the last reason I even missed a day in school. She said she needed me so I could pass on to her daughter, the things she didn’t learn.
Then, I had a similar experience during a conversation with my best friend (Shout out to you Shea Buttah!). It was during one of my frequent meltdowns. I was crying to him about how frustrated I was, how it was all too much and in his most supportive tone he said, “Get up my N*gga, I’m here wishing I could go to a school like you do. At least you have the chance, so don’t f*** up”.
Lastly, there’s the eyes of my brothers who ask me every day (and I do mean everyday) questions about my future, and if I will help them with their future. They even said they want to go to Penn State just like me.
See, these eyes aren’t just looking to make sure I’m doing well. These eyes are hoping I do well, with the expectation that I make every day, and every lesson count. They’re not depending on me, but simply supporting and encouraging my decision to pursue my dreams. They are a constant reminder that anything I do or learn at this University is not just for my betterment, but for the amelioration of my community, and the people I come in contact with.
So to the two boys on the train always doing homework together this is for you; to the loud mouth boy in the park that swears he’s going to make it, this is for you; to my friend that went behind her parents back to apply to Beauty School (you’re amazing), this is for you. I’m watching you guys too.