Hannah Anokye: The unique gift of TWW

Guest Columnist
Thursday, May 26, 2016
This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2016

Brown may not have the largest endowment, but what it lacks in capital, it makes up for in personality. When I first got to Brown, I was taken in by the cherry blossoms and cheery spirits. And though on my worst days I will tell you that it was all a lie, in truth, at least the latter half has remained constant.

I met most of my friends at Third World Weekend, an entity that no longer exists. Along with our invitations to A Day On College Hill, we, the prospective students of color, had been invited to TWW. Those of us who made it past the somewhat alarming name to the descriptive fine print found ourselves at Brown two days prior to ADOCH. During this weekend, we were able to experience Brown like I have never seen it since. The school was like a historically black college where everyone was socially conscious and friendly!

The streets of Brown were lined with other prospective students of color who were just as eager to love the school as I was. We quickly bonded over our anxieties, our hopes and our dreams for a life-changing four years. Over that weekend, 10 other prospective students and I formed what could have been a shallow connection, but what turned into collective matriculation and a steadfast four years of friendship. Before we walked through the Van Wickle Gates, my core group of friends, the “Black community” at Brown, had already bonded.

Throughout the moments of strife that inevitably come with the passing of time, and throughout the trauma that unjustly comes with being a Black person in America today, this community has supported me in ways that I could have never envisioned on that first weekend. We have held potlucks, prayer sessions, parties and kickbacks. We are a family through and through.

When I lost my mother in the spring of my sophomore year, I felt as though I’d lost myself. Everything in my life had been uprooted, and I didn’t know how to be myself here, or anywhere else for that matter. Administrators stepped in and revealed to me that they could be helpful in these types of situations. My friends stepped up and showed me that it was okay to not be okay. They affirmed and continue to affirm me two years later, as I approach Commencement without my greatest hero and cheerleader.

While I may not be thrilled with some of the other aspects of my Brown experience, I am incredibly grateful that I was able to experience TWW and meet a group of people who changed my life for the better. I honestly wouldn’t have made it through Brown without this incredible support system in my life. If I could do it all over again, I don’t think I would choose differently.