Spirit Off-Campus: Cornell in Ithaca

Happy almost Thanksgiving! In the spirit of the holiday, sophomore Julia Curley discusses why she is so grateful for the spirit of interconnectedness that links Cornell with the greater community in Ithaca, NY.

By: Julia Curley ’19

Cornell spirit extends beyond our campus. It reaches wider than the homecoming football game; it touches more than students, staff, faculty, and alumni. Our spirit branches out into Ithaca’s heart and is an integral part of the community. When I introduced myself to a class of second graders as their new volunteer student teacher and a Cornell student, their faces lit up. The teacher, anticipating their excitement, said, “If you also have a connection with Cornell, sign ‘same’.” The little group of seven- and eight-year-olds reached out to me, each with their own attachment to the University.

The Cornell Daily Sun office in the Ithaca Commons.

The Cornell Daily Sun office in the Ithaca Commons.

Through outreach—tutoring, participating in sorority philanthropy, and working at Mighty Yoga in the Ithaca Commons—I can see Cornell’s off-campus engagement each day. Ithaca itself is a uniquely friendly place, one unlike any other I’ve ever experienced. The community is incredibly welcoming; Ithaca Commons, in particular, provides an off-campus social heart for Cornell life. Much like how Cornell’s Ho Plaza blocks off cars for students walking to class, Ithaca Commons centers on a pedestrian-only avenue, flanked by shops and restaurants. I found Mighty Yoga in the Commons my freshman year at Cornell, and I started working there this fall. Rather than silently meditating on our matts, Mighty yogis tend to chat before class begins. During this time, I met two women with ties back to Cornell. We all got to know each other as regulars at the studio. One of the women, I learned, graduated from Cornell a few years ago. She met her fiancé at Cornell and after they graduated, they decided to stay in Ithaca. Her Cornell experience, like mine, centered not just in her studies and the campus, but in the wider Ithaca community. The other woman and I met in one of my English classes this semester, where she serves as the teacher’s assistant (TA). We recognized each other again when she rolled out her matt next to mine at a Monday morning class.

Cornell spirit weaves its way into all spaces of my Ithaca life. Over and over again, I realize the power of our Cornell ties to bring us together in unlikely spaces. As I walk through Ithaca Commons on my way to a yoga class, I pass a Cornell Apparel store and the Cornell Daily Sun office, where I write and edit pieces for our school newspaper. The Cornell experience stretches beyond the bounds of classrooms, campus, and college town. The spirit won’t leave us even long after we graduate.

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