Faculty residents' children enjoy and contribute to college life.
By Alexandra Desaulniers '11
Published July 19, 2010
Colby students hang out with Ursula Johnson. Photo by Michele Hébert
Students say there’s nothing like a little kid to put the pressures of college life in perspective. “If I’m stressed out, when I’m with them I’m going to pretend I’m happy and carefree,” said Jasmine Qin ’12. “And after I’m with them a while, I don’t have to pretend.”
Qin, who is from Hunan Province in China, was an additional source of Chinese culture for Connie Zhu (mother of Anton and Anna Behuniak), who is from Shanghai. Qin invited the two children to take part in a fashion show at the annual International Extravaganza where, alongside Colby students, they modeled traditional Chinese clothing. And Anna and Anton remembered well participating in the Moon Festival sponsored by the East Asian Studies Department last fall. “It was fun, [and] there was yummy food,” Anna said.
Spending so much time with college students has an impact on children early on, professors say. The Longs, who have lived on campus for five years, said growing up in college dormitories has made their daughter Maya very comfortable around adults. “She’s not as shy as other three-year-olds I know,” Jason Long said. “I’m sure that has a lot to do with the fact that she’s constantly meeting new students and learning confidence from the older role models she has in the students in the dorm and on campus.”
The Longs said their daughter, Lucy, 1, is already taking advantage of her life on campus. “Lucy and Maya both love running around on the quad in front of Miller,” Long said, “or meeting new people every day.”
But college students are still college students. And for the Longs and other faculty residents, there were early questions about some aspects of dorm life. “We thought being in the dorms would be loud, especially with newborns,” Long said, “but the students have always been respectful and considerate of party noise and late nights.”
Anna and Anton Behuniak on stage with Katelyn Xu ’12 and Jasmine Qin ’12 during the fashion show portion of this spring’s International Extravaganza.
Photo by Kendyl Sullivan '11
Terhune said seeing children in a dorm can be a reality check, a break from a living situation that, while it has its advantages, doesn’t mirror what students will experience anywhere else. “Not everybody in the world is eighteen to twenty-two and going to Colby,” he said.
The worst part of being on campus for the veteran Johnsons? “The fire alarms,” Russell Johnson said.
But Johnson said he has no regrets about his family’s time on campus. In fact, much of what Colby hopes to teach students is also imparted to kids who have yet to set foot in a classroom.
Long said he hopes Maya will remember some of her formative years on Mayflower Hill, or at least the effect of them. “She’s had quite the three years,” her father said, “and I think she will at the very least continue to hang on to the strong self-confidence that she’s fostered here.”