The other weekend, as a Big Sister, I joined my Little Sister’s mother, aunt, and uncle to watch her perform in “Blue’s Clues,” a community play hosted by Yankee Candle. As we waited for the first act to begin, I found myself immersed in a discussion with my Little’s relatives, residents of Franklin County. Their small-talk hurled me into an unexpected yet appropriate realization of my lack of awareness concerning the community surrounding Deerfield.
My Little’s aunt, the Work Force Manager at Stop & Shop, the popular Franklin County area grocery store, spoke about her participation in the worker’s union, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). She informed me about a recent strike against the chain grocery stores across New England, sparked by the termination of the contract between UFCW and Stop & Shop.
Unlike her husband who worked in transportation and unloading of goods, a job that is not authorized to go on strike as stated in the workers’ contracts with UFCW, she was permitted to join the strike as the Force Manager of her store.
What I remember most, however, is the clear pride she displayed for her position at Stop & Shop and her contribution to the strike, evident through her excited eyes and expressions as she related her story to me.
My Little’s aunt brought me a reality check. Her narrative pushed me to remind myself and the Deerfield community of the diverse profusion of socioeconomic positions beyond our campus. As students, we cloister ourselves in the active and busy lives that Deerfield provides us in order to develop our distant yet perceptible future.
Within the boundaries of historic Deerfield, the small loop, or Savages’ Market, the layers of obligations and social commitments that we share camouflage significant differences in background and home life; we are united under the similarity that connects us all, we all attend Deerfield Academy.
But remind yourself, next time you leave campus to pick up some groceries, that what constitutes normal standards in our Deerfield lives may not apply to the outside world. In the community around us is a blend of people who certainly do not view us the same way we view ourselves.
We talk about how easy it is to become so engrossed in our life that environments beyond our campus become a blur. We talk about how we are built into the Deerfield “bubble” as an almost unavoidable certainty, a predicted outcome of the seclusion we experience.
We need to replace this loss of perspective with heedful awareness of the greater world that carries different standards of wealth, class, and background than those we maintain at Deerfield.