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BREATHING IN: ULTIMATE FRISBEE

My name is Chloe Levenson and I have a confession to make: Despite the remarks of a few jaded juniors and some others I've met who are less than enchanted with Haverford, if there was a head cheerleader for the place, I'd be it. Yup — I love the school.

Confession number two: When my mother first mentioned that I might look at Haverford, I wouldn't even humor her. I was so sure Haverford wasn't the school for me. Of course, I'd never visited, never looked at the Web site, never spoken with anyone with knowledge of the place. I based my opinions solely on the information that my older friends gave me. Pshhh...little did they know...So what in the world brought me to this crazy little gold mine of a school?

Running.

I'm a born and raised New York girl. Anyone who has met me (especially my Customs folks), know that I dance to my own music, am very independent. (That's why I thought it would be a great idea in my junior year of high school to go abroad.) I only have 800 words here but to say the least, it was an incredibly difficult and enlightening experience. I took to running while I spent my four-and-a-half months in the Czech Republic, to pass time, and feel closer to my mother — who ran every day.

When I came back I kept up the practice, and since then, running has become a kind of haven. And it was a running coach I met in Central Park, in New York, who convinced me to take a closer look at Haverford. So instead of taking my planned trip to Maine to visit schools there, I took the short train ride to 30th Street Station. It's funny, you usually can't pinpoint the moment that you know something is right for you. But months later, I still can.

My test for all colleges is to go into the cafeteria and see if I can sit down at any table and strike up a conversation with someone...I had had a bad experience with this test earlier in the year at a different school, but decided to give it another try. A guy leaning over his physics book and a sandwich sat alone at a table by the window. I sat down with my oatmeal and he immediately looked up and smiled. Somehow we got into a conversation about physics and ultimate Frisbee. I can't for the life of me remember this person's name, but he became my understanding of Haverford.

Now let me clarify: I'm not saying Haverford is Utopia. Far from it. What I'm saying is that it is one of the only schools that strive for something — able to recognize its faults and mistakes and make some attempt to rectify them.

In my few weeks here, I've met people who amaze me, understand me, interest me, make me keel over with laughter, challenge me, and respect me. So maybe it's not a huge campus, but I find it enchanting in its simplicity and small size. Maybe there are complaints about the food, but you find another school where the head of the Dining Center is talking one-on-one with students about how to improve things; perhaps there aren't parties that blow the roofs off buildings every night, but I find I always have something interesting and entertaining to do.

Throughout my junior and senior years of high school, I was so afraid I'd never find my next home. But I have found this place that breaks the barriers of age so that everyone can relate to one another on a level of trust that perhaps is founded on the Honor Code. Maybe not every person is an Honor Code fan or even a Haverfan, but everyone I've met in the last two weeks has enhanced my experience. Whether it's by inviting me to join their table at the cafeteria, accepting me as a new member on the crew team, advising me on academic issues, or just recognizing my toughness, and my fragility. Everyone tells me that you make your own experience at college, so that wherever you go you'll be happy...but I've found that Haverford makes it easy.

The intersection of College Lane and Coursey Road in front of the Cricket Pitch.

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