This academic year, the Columbia College experience is taking place in all corners of the world. To help keep our community connected, we’re asking students to share their thoughts about their classes and extracurriculars, what they’re learning about themselves during the pandemic and what they look forward to doing when they are able to return to campus. This week, we speak with Christian Palomares CC’22, an American studies major from Los Angeles.
What do you like to do outside of class?
I love backpacking; I’m a huge fan of the outdoors and environmental activism. I try to get out into nature as much as possible. I’m the hiking coordinator of the Columbia Outdoor Orientation Program (COÖP), so I try to bridge that interest with mentorship for first-years. Also, I’m hoping to run the New York City Marathon next year in support of Education Through Music, which helps educators in under-resourced areas pay for music equipment and training for students. On campus, I’m heavily involved with theater and comedy; I’ve directed a couple of musicals with the Columbia Musical Theatre Society. I was in the Varsity Show last year as a cast member, and this year I’m on its production team. I’m also part of the improv group Fruit Paunch!
What is something you’ve learned about yourself during the pandemic?
I think a lot of people have had their resilience tested. I started to understand how I persevere in difficult situations. I lost a close family member and then it felt like all these losses stacked up this spring. Especially when the California wildfires were close to my home, I had to become OK with not being busy, because the way I like to fill my time and deal with hard times is to busy myself, and I couldn’t do that anymore. Being forced to be alone with my thoughts and having to really consider what I want to do with my life was a big part of the growth I’ve accomplished during the pandemic. I hope when we are back in the real world, I’ll be better prepared to make the most of my life.
What’s the first thing you’ll do when you’re back on the Morningside Heights campus?
I’ve actually been living on campus since August, but there will be so many things [to do] when everyone is back. I hope we all come together on Low Steps and just sit and be with each other and be in each other’s presence. The one thing I did when I got back was I sat on the lawn and looked out at Columbia because I had missed it so much. I love Columbia; it’s given me so many opportunities and friendships and things that I value. I know that when we all come together it will be this very magical moment of true gratitude.
What’s been your favorite class at the College, and why?
My favorite class was one that I was able to build a really strong community around, Edward Mendelson’s Lit Hum class my freshman year. That’s the one that made me realize, “OK, Columbia is different, college is a different game, the people here are incredible and that starts with the professor.” Ever since then, I’ve taken a professor-first approach with all my classes; I think, “Who are the minds I want to leach off?” One of the things that Mendelson does that I love is that we have a class reunion every year; we missed that in the spring, but I hope we can have it again for senior year.
What message would you want to send to/share with classmates?
There is so much beauty and amazingness and wonder that is Columbia. We’re now being asked to be stewards of this Columbia spirit, so that when life returns to normal, we can bring back all the things that we love so much. It puts the responsibility on us, but I hope that we can keep the community alive and make it stronger so that when we all return to Columbia in person, we make sure that the things we’ve lost out on are still there for the generations that follow.