Time capsule chronicles a transformative year on campus
by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
May 21, 2012
Days before Commencement, graduating seniors gather to view a time capsule they'd created as part of a first-year seminar taught by Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Windsor Morgan. From left: Jesse Battilana, Eleanor Mackintosh, Adam Fothergill, Morgan, Matthew Schwadron, Rebecca Miller and Gus Umanzor.
It was Senior Week, a time for graduating seniors to soak up final moments as undergrads and join in campuswide celebrations. Much conversation revolved around memories of the last four years, but for one group of graduates-to-be, those memories were contextualized in an unusual way.
The students had taken Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Windsor Morgan’s 2008 first-year seminar examining the social constructs of time. Nearly four years later, they met again in their old classroom to unveil a time capsule they’d created as a part of that class.
The capsule, an unceremonious-looking archival box, was filled with small objects and writings. Favorite mementos included a Barack Obama campaign button and poster, souvenirs of the historic 2008 presidential election, and a headset representing the video games Gus Umanzor ’12 still plays online with his buddy, Matt Ruark. There also were letters and class-journal entries the students had written to their future selves—testimonies to a transformative first year, as they found footing on campus and adjusted to new lives away from home.
Many commented on the changes they saw in themselves, big and small. “Apparently, I was obsessed with the weather in 2008—I wrote about the rain every day,” laughed Jesse Battilana ‘12, a double major in religion and American studies, recalling the unusually soggy autumn of her freshman year. Several classmates nodded in agreement when Christine Welling ’12, a physics major, added, “It’s interesting to see how I saw it all, then.”
Some keepsakes spurred remarks about evolving technologies. Religion-major Eleanor Mackintosh ’12 mused that the printed photographs Morgan had contributed to the project would be antiquated in 25 years, because they already were relics in some people’s eyes. “There are no shoeboxes of baby photos for babies who are born now. It’s all digital photos on a Facebook page,” she explained.
After the unveiling, the capsule was placed in Dickinson’s archives, to be opened by seminar students during the Class of 2012’s 25th-anniversary Alumni Weekend (the president of the college and senior-class president will again open the time capsule in 2233). Psychology-major Matthew Schwadron ’12 appreciated the concept behind the ceremony.
“You don’t go to college expecting to grow, but one day you wake up and that’s exactly what has happened,” he said. “This is our reminder of it. And we’ll be playing this game again in another 25 years.”