An Open Letter to Minerva’s Class of 2021

By Jahnavi Jayanth | Apr 26, 2017

First you were the chosen ones, the new story — the next generation of extraordinary. And every time we were told one of you had become a part of Minerva, we grinned and shouted happily, a wave of pride sweeping through us. Then you became very real. We met some of you at Ascent, read what each of you wrote on the 2021 Facebook community wall, spoke with some of you for hours on end, and you slowly started becoming a part of our family.

Dearest Class of 2021,

In less than half a year, you are going to be sitting where I am, here in San Francisco. Soon you will be occupying the same rooms that hugged the Class of 2020, while we had our late night conversations and feverishly submitted assignments. You will be haunting the same cafés in which we ordered our sea salt and caramel ice creams, and you will be layering up (I recommend at least five layers!) to go to the same freezing beaches, while marvelling at San Francisco’s dramatic weather shifts.

You will be coming home, 2021, to our home — yours and ours. And as I leave this home for the next, I want to take a moment to fluff the cushions and check that there’s iced water and lemonade, towels, and a working heater ready for you. I want to make home as comfortable and welcoming for you as the Class of 2019 did for us. I also want to show you around.

So, shall we get started?

If you are anything like me, you will be very tempted to eat sour candy and instant ramen for lunch and a fruit bowl doused in melting chocolate ice cream for dinner. As delicious as that sounds and as nutritious as we may convince ourselves it is (there’s a whole fruit bowl in there, amirite?), I have been told there are healthier ways to feed oneself.

Embrace the tasks of finding, preparing, and eating food together. Most of the stores I frequent are quite a walk away and it’s always nice to have extra sets of hands to help carry groceries back to the residence hall — they won’t all settle easily on your head, if your two hands are full (and they will be).

Most of us started at the slightly expensive farmer’s market near City Hall every Wednesday and Friday; then moved to Trader Joe’s and Safeway, which are farther away and less expensive; and finally settled on FoodsCo, that’s the farthest away and least expensive. But after hauling grocery bags filled with avocados (if you don’t like them now, California will make you love them in less than a month), ice cream, and other food that is supposed to be nutritious, comes the real task: cooking it!

In our class, a lot of us joined food families — groups that share grocery expenses, cooking, chopping, and cleaning — which resulted in a lot of love and festivity around the dining table. You’ll have everything you will need to cook here. You can boil rice, bake bread, roast meat, and toss salads. Doing it all together is so much more convenient, less expensive, less exhausting, and much more fun. You and your food family will work out your own innovative plans and come to find that communal living adds value to the Minerva community, as you grow to trust and depend on each other.

And there is always that plethora of restaurants, take-out joints, and delis that will be your best friends when your pockets and calendars are full and you’re craving your favorite foods. If I didn’t have my Chaat Corner, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and Flying Falafel, I wouldn’t have survived. Remind me to take you to Chaat Corner for Biryani whenever our paths cross in San Francisco, OK?

Now, even as we are welcoming you home, there is the bittersweet reality that my class is coming to terms with: we are leaving. We are leaving all the spots we’ve grown to love, the locals, and Minerva staff that we’re used to seeing every day.

We are leaving our home.

So before you find yourselves in a similar situation, which will happen sooner than you might think, be sure you make enough memories to take with you.

Go to Bernal Heights. There’s the sweetest tire swing atop the hill there. If you’ve never been up in the skies before, this is your chance.

Grab a classmate — or 10 — and hike up to Ghirardelli Square. It’s a beautiful walk at night. You will see city lights, tall buildings, the ocean docks, glistening waterfront, and busy people in lit marketplaces. Share an ice cream with a friend. It tastes 10 times better, I promise you.

Climb up Corona Heights, walk the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, catch some sunrises and sunsets. Take tango classes, make friends with farmers at the farmer’s market, and shriek as loudly as you can when you run into the freezing waters at North Beach.

Compare coffees from different hipster cafés, find your favorite cozy spot to take classes from, and fall in love with the winds that will sweep you off your feet.

Haven’t found enough time to visit that park your first semester? Go during the next one. This is the only city you get to experience for two semesters, so enjoy it.

Now remember Class of 2021, there are a lot of you and there are a lot of us. And we’re all very, very different people. Hugging this city, making friends with it, and promising it lasting love takes very different forms for each of us. Within the crazy bunch you will start calling your family, you will see people performing all kinds of travel antics. You may see students joining class from swimming pools (you can attend from anywhere, after all), biking across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito at five in the morning, or making friends that fly planes in Oakland.

You will also see some that have declared their everlasting love for their beds, and others that have never seen the sun, but have seen all the stars. You will see people that always prepare their own food and those that drink coffee from Starbucks at least four times a day.

The point is, there’s no right or wrong way to make this your home.

There will be times when you will feel like you are doing too much and times when you will feel like you are doing too little. When either happens, remember this is your city, your home. This is about San Francisco and you. No matter how you develop your relationship with the City by the Bay, what matters in the end is that you are able to close your eyes and think fondly of this place, that you feel like you are home — that’s the magic.

So get ready to come home, Class of 2021.

Get ready to watch your life and the magic in it unfold. Pack your bags, make sure you have clothing that makes for multiple layering variations (seriously, you will need them). Pack some forks and spoons because goodness knows where they vanish to in our kitchen. Bring some photos for your wall.

Oh, and bring all the energy and excitement you can muster, for this is going to be one heck of a ride.

Welcome to San Francisco and welcome to the Minerva family.

Welcome home.