July at Bennington Program

Bennington, VT: I went to the July at BenningtonProgram expecting to have a terrible time and, in fact, the first few days I didwish I wasn’t there.

Luckily, this feeling didn’t last long. I got to knowpeople in the dorms incredibly well; we spent many nights staying up until threetalking about our lives, making macaroni and cheese and ramen noodles and,occasionally, dancing on the coffee table. I had never before met a group ofpeople I so totally admired and felt inspired by. I am still in close contactwith these people, and can never thank the JaB program enough for introducingus.

The program itself was amazing. Although you’re expected to give aserious amount of time to your classes, there was still a lot of free time. Wedid great things during the day – stealing chairs from the lawn, running aroundthe art building, making movies, mixing CDs, eating, and attending informalclasses (knitting, Urban Arts, and Tie-Dye, among others). Every night there weremovies, lectures, guest actors and writers, events like”Rollerama” and “The Roommate Game.” And every night many ofus would gather in the Upstairs Cafe to hang out and eat.

Never beforehad I met people who were so innovative and artistic. Never before had I seensuch intelligence shown through creativity. I go to a very competitive highschool, and Bennington was an escape. I realized where I want to go in life, andwho I want to be. At our final open mic night, as I watched my peers act, sing,dance, read poetry, be creative, be innovative, change the world with theirwords, I had an epiphany: this is the world I want to belong to. I had never, inmy 17 years on this earth, been in a place where I was happier, felt morechallenged, or felt more excited about living.

I went to Benningtonbelieving I was wasting a summer. Instead, I gained an experience that changed mylife.

Reviewed in 2003