Hello dear ones! My name is ilia Silverman-Esrig, and I’m the Summer Orientation Assistant for New Student Programs. Although I grew up in Rockville, Maryland, I’ve spent the last four years here in the Pioneer Valley and just two weeks ago graduated from Hampshire. It’s wild to think that my undergraduate career came and went so quickly – I still remember my first day of college like it was yesterday. I remember how excited I was to decorate my dorm room with posters, lights, and more, all of which in one way or another represented both where I came from –- my past — and where I’d be headed – my future — for the rest of my time at Hampshire. I remember how nervous I initially was to introduce myself to my hallmates, how amazed I was at their apparent confidence, and how relieved I was to find out that actually, they were just as uncertain as I was.
My first months at Hampshire were an unbelievable opportunity to try my hand at anything and everything I could potentially be passionate about. In my first year alone I took a course on Palestine and Israel, Intro to Sculpting, a World Religions class, a Psychology course, Linguistics, and even an Ecology class! Having the chance to test out so many different areas of study really helped me to figure out what I was (or wasn’t) interested in. I was also able to begin the process of building my own micro-community of artists, creators, and activists – people who were curious about the world they lived in and who were inspired to make change in new and meaningful ways. I found these friends not just in my classes but in the student groups I took part in as well, from the Jewish Student Union to Sexperts (our on campus sexuality & sexual health group). I even found community in my work-study jobs in the Spiritual Life office, as a desk monitor in the Robert Crown Center, and as an orientation leader and coordinator for incoming students!
Everything that I did and everyone that I came to know while I was at Hampshire genuinely will inform everything that I’ll do in the future. My Division III, which turned out to be a three part process, was a chance for me to really put into action all of the theory I had learned previously. I created a curriculum for a workshop series that was built on the use of creative expression as a means of self exploration, understanding, healing, and embodiment; I then facilitated this six month long series with a group of womyn right here on campus. Hampshire’s unique academic structure allowed me to do this and curate an interactive gallery space that showcased these womyn’s creative works, all while writing and compiling a facilitation guide for this work that others can use. I was able to engage in a process that truly reflects the work I want to do in the future – work that is community engaged, creative, and empowering.
After four years at Hampshire, I can confidently say that I got everything out of this college that I wanted to – because I was encouraged to give my all and be present in all that I did. It sounds cheesy, but Hampshire is a place that truly changes lives – I hope you’ll take advantage of all it has to offer once you arrive.
Don’t hesitate to contact me at iaeSA@hampshire.edu if you’ve got questions or want to chat – I’m excited and happy to connect. Welcome!