Junior Parents Weekend is three days full of programming meant to introduce students’ families to life at Harvard. It consists of presentations from the deans, tours, lectures, d-hall food, and activities.
The lead up to this weekend is scary, no matter what relationship you have with your family. Deciding to let your family into the private world you have created at school can be difficult and might bring up many "will they" and "what if" questions. On campus, we have created a life that is just our own - we decide when to eat, who we spend our time with, and freely plan every detail of our day. This is in stark contrast to the lives that many students lived in high school. Therefore, being this “new” person in front of your family can be nerve-wracking even if you are close to them.
I am extremely fortunate to have a great relationship with my mom, but I was equally excited and nervous for her to visit. I always share my adventures on campus with her but telling her is hugely different from having her here joining me in every aspect of my life. Living over 2,000 miles away from home I have grown into a bolder and more adventurous person than who I was in high school. I always joke with my friends that I have a cool mom, so I was not scared to have her interact with them, more so just nervous to have her see who I am in a new context.
While I went into the weekend slightly nervous, I could not have imagined a better experience! I loved showing my mom where I like to work, what I do for fun, introducing her to my favorite restaurants, and more. Here are a few highlights from my weekend:
1. Meeting My Friends: My mom had already met my roommates but still had not met everyone in my friend group. It was important to me that she met everyone so that she could know that I had found my family away from home. My family away from home has been formed through many different places ranging from extracurriculars, classes, students in Eliot house, and more. Slowly but surely my mom was introduced to friends from all these groups, some of the most important people in my life, and she loved every one of them!
2. Cultural Rhythms: Cultural Rhythms is a Harvard showcase that highlights the hard work of cultural performing groups on campus. These groups include many cultural identities and traditions. One of my family's biggest concerns prior to me coming to campus was finding a Latine community on campus. Coming from a predominantly Latine town it was crucial to me to find this at Harvard as well. While I had told my mom about these spaces it was incredible to be able to share them firsthand at Cultural Rhythms. Every time I hear the mariachi on campus it reminds me of home, and it was incredibly special to share small parts of my cultural community at Harvard with her.
3. Meeting My Friends' Families: Parent's weekend is also a unique opportunity to learn more about your friends' backgrounds and how these factors shaped them into the amazing people that they are today. After meeting my friend's parents, I now understand them a lot more. I got to see where specific little quirks came from and now tease everyone about how similar they are to their parents. For example, one of my friends has the same smile as her mom and another has the same laugh as their mom. My friend group made the most of this time with our parents by having a game night, a salsa dance lesson, and enjoying brunch with all our families! Recently, I started dancing with Candela, the Latinx Dance group on campus, so attending the salsa lesson was the highlight of my weekend. Candela has become a creative space for my friends and me, and it was incredibly special to have my friends teach my mom just like they taught me not too long ago!
4. Eliot Fire Alarm: As all students living in Eliot House know our fire alarm tends to go off at the most inconvenient of times. I have always told my mom about these early morning, mid-meal, and worst timed experiences. As fate would have it, the fire alarm went off during Eliot Junior Brunch. My mom and I both thought this was very fitting and now she can officially say she has had the real Eliot experience.
Letting my mom into my space and seeing my friends do the same with their families was one of the best experiences that I have had this semester. As we wrapped up the weekend, my mom and I chatted about her time visiting. One thing I remember her saying is “I am so happy that you found great people!” This will always stick with me because it makes me happy to know that I can successfully bring together my home life and my home away from home life.
While Parent's Weekend can be a stressful time, I encourage everyone to fully embrace it and allow their families into their space! It is an incredible experience that fosters connection while also creating lifelong memories with the people that you love!