Jay De Man

first step

My journey to Calvin began with a very simple fact of life: I was homeschooled, and Calvin offers the January Series every year. Packed to the brim with important speakers from around the United States and abroad on every topic imaginable and as wide-open to the public as can be, the January Series is the sort of draw no right-thinking homeschooler can resist. 

 There's a lot that's beautiful here, not only the buildings. 

There's a lot that's beautiful here, not only the buildings. 

My very first time at Calvin was actually in 8th grade. I had an excellent friend: he and I would spend endless hours discussing all sorts of things. Even at that early age, the friendship held hallmarks of what I would later recognize to be a very important component to meaningful relating: we were open about everything, intentional about discussing it and careful about each other’s interests. At the time, we both held rather biological interests. On account of this, his grandfather invited us both to a January Series talk on theistic evolution. 

The talk was lovely, rousing ample controversy and plenty of new categories to work through. My 8th-grade-self felt, for one of the first times in my life, the slope of the mountain ahead. In simply sitting there, a sense of gratitude pervaded my understanding. For here, not of my own effort but of someone else’s, a great body of knowledge and skill had been proffered up--and I had paid nothing for the opportunity to listen. I felt the beginning of the sort of educational journey I wanted, and I found it more deeply expressed there than I had known possible. 

My friend, his grandpa and I then enjoyed something which I found to be a pattern whenever I made my way up to Calvin for a concert, a talk or (much later) for Fridays at Calvin. Conversation ripe with joy seemed to simply flow from the things encountered on campus. We went from campus to Panera on Knapp’s Corner, and amidst bagels and coffee enjoyed a different sort of nutrition altogether. 

I may have been just a wee thing then, and I certainly am not much larger now, but my appreciation and attachment to Calvin began in that very simple way. Education is a gift, and I received it as a meal to my hungry self. I suppose it was inevitable I would return.