We live in a community of over eight hundred people, where it is difficult to know everybody’s name. Over time, it becomes easier to recognize the faces of not just teachers and students, but staff as well. Through her winter exemption, Ashley So ’13 has worked to put names and stories to some faces in the Deerfield crowd.
At the beginning of the winter term, So petitioned for a co-curricular exemption to photograph, interview, and write about DA staff members.
“I’m compiling a book. I’m interviewing different people on campus—grounds crew, physical plant, dining hall, even the Historic Deerfield tourguides—and getting to know their stories,” So explained.
So’s exemption is not simply an outlet to hone her photography and reporting skills; it is a way for students and faculty to get to know those who play integral roles in campus life.
“I feel that we stress community and how the people here are so important, but I think we are forgetting an important aspect of the community,” she said.
“We are so busy. We connect with students, teachers, and people in the dorm, but not as much with those who work ‘for us’,” So said.
Though we may say “thank you” to a Dining Hall employee or offer a “good morning” to a grounds crew member, we rarely connect. “I guess I’m just providing that angle that people don’t see everyday. We come from all over the world, and [the staff members] also have their own stories about how they got to Deerfield,” So explained.
And every story is different. Hoping to get unique material from each interviewee, So deliberately did not ask pre-formed questions in her interviews.
“Whatever I find out about them, whatever they feel is important, I try to make it into a story. This project was definitely more work than I thought it would be,” So said with a smile.
So’s hard work has paid off. With the start of the spring term, her project will enter its final stage—printing and distribution.