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In many ways it was a typical start to a day in Monterey, complete with lingering early morning fog and a gentle soundtrack of barking sea lions and sea gulls. For 385 students gathered for the beginning of orientation at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, the morning of August 18, 2015 will be remembered as the beginning of a transformative educational experience leading to a meaningful and rewarding career.

The day began with warm breakfast served in the Holland Center courtyard. Vice President and Dean of the Institute Jeffrey Dayton-Johnson welcomed the new students, who also heard from representatives of the Student Council, the Sustainability Council, and Student Services, as well as a trio of alumni who talked about how to make the most of the Middlebury Institute experience and shared their own success stories.

It was a day of new connections, filled with activities and interesting conversations, in English or one of the other 25 native languages spoken by the incoming class. This fall the Institute is welcoming students from 37 different countries, in addition to a number of U.S. students who are returning home after having lived and worked abroad. During the community building sessions, students wrote six-word stories in the spirit of Ernest Hemingway’s famous story: “For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.” This new activity is sure to be repeated, for there is never a shortage of stories when Institute students get together. A few examples: “Woken by a Stranger. Given Snickers.” “Lost on Mountain. Saved by Monk.” “East West. Traveled Much. Always Home.” “Loving Family. Hardship Brings Strength. Love.” “Homeless Child. Families Around the World.” Our favorite, though is this classic: “Dear Grad School. I am Ready.”

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Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir