A Summer Well Spent

Mason students turned an ordinary summer into a learning experience



As the semester begins, so does the question that brings on intense feelings of anxiety and self-loathing: “How was your summer?” Someone visited the Bahamas. The girl with horn-rimmed glasses had a fulfilling time on her mission trip to Mauritania. Did that kid in green say he had an internship…with Google…on the moon? You dread answering, but you’re next. You don’t have any great stories or grand takeaways! What did the everyday, normal students do this summer?

Sophomore Jenna S. is an everyday student interested in pediatric nursing. An average-sounding vacation became an incredible experience as she watched over the antics of a 9, 7, and 3-year-old as a nanny. Though a little exhausted by the end, she said, “I really confirmed my aspiration to work in pediatrics.” Even if they’re mixing everything from “allspice to almond extract to sprinkles to peppermint oil” to make cookies as the 9-year-old did, kids “just want to be happy.” Now it’s her job to get them there.

There are unpleasant summer lessons to learn, too. Sophomore music major Jordan Gibson spent the summer at a camp working with kids ages 2 to 7. Some days, her fellow counselors drove her up the wall. When the chips were down, though, everyone teamed up to make memories for the children. Under the strain of disagreeable coworkers and soaked diapers, patience prevailed. She learned how to be responsible and how to be patient with others. Most of all, Gibson learned to grit her teeth, no matter the difficulties, and make herself and others smile.

Junior Zack K. enjoyed summer for what it was: a break. He took a solo trip to Virginia Beach. The drive took five hours, but armed with Christian rock, Andy Mineo, and “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” it wasn’t too bad. He appreciated the love of his friends and the beauty of the beach. The best part was “getting to relax and float in the ocean,” he said. As he snapped a photo of the sun setting, turning the sky silver, he felt his vacation was well spent.

The point of summer, it seems, is to learn. Whether through an internship,  building wells and planting baobab trees or floating in the blue ocean, what you learn matters. “Grand takeaways,” “great stories” — they don’t matter. Just learn.

It’s your turn to answer: What did you learn from this summer?