The room is dark, and a wave of cold air seems to waft out of the classroom. We tentatively step into the chemistry classroom, heels clicking their way up to the Harkness table in the center. Today is one of the last days that my friend and I will be able to spend together, before we disband and return to our routine and old lives, like dandelion seeds blowing away from the flower that united them all. Yes, we could be sad and wish that we had more time, but the last few days at Exeter should not be a sad affair-we were determined to celebrate our time here, with all the precious memories that had bloomed, and to leave with a smile on our lips and eyes gleaming with tears of happiness.
“Remember the first day?” I asked, poking her. “I thought you were some sort of shy nerd who hated m-”
“Come again? You thought I was shy?”
Evidently, our views of each other had morphed a lot, from the first Sunday when I had barged into her dorm room by accident, to now, where we were sitting around a Harkness table and laughing about our memories together.
“Yes, seeing as I had to threaten you to even start talking at Harkness, I’ve decided to adhere to my opinion. Besides, you are technically still under my debt for all those crisps I bribed you with,” I replied back, smirking as she groaned.
“Harkness was pretty cool, although you barricading me in my room was unnecessary,” she argued back, referring to one of the many threats that I used to get her to contribute more.
“Darling, it was for your own good. Besides, admit it! You’re going to miss Harkness when you go back to Beijing.”
“Are you kidding me? Of course I’m going to miss Exeter. I don’t think I’ve even heard half of my class talk at all back home,” she admitted, sighing as she stretched her arms.
“Oh, you will. We even figured out a way to incorporate Harkness into daily discussions in, like, two weeks flat.”
The Harkness Table was a new concept to almost all of my classmates and I, and some were more willing to accept the frankly, quite brilliant, concept than others. We’ve had many memorable and impressive Harkness discussions from our literature and philosophy classes, but not all of our shining Harkness Table moments were discussing the banning of religious symbols in France or the underlying themes of greed in The Necklace. My personal favorite discussion that we conducted using the Harkness Method was a (severely heated) debate over the existence of Santa Claus, over steaming pizza outside of Front Row Pizza, on our way back from Montreal for the overnight excursion.
“Santa Claus is clearly real! He’s just mean, because the only present I ever received from him was the complete Princeton Review SAT book set when I was eight!” I shrieked, pointing an accusing finger at Alex, who denied his existence.
“Oh, so how do you feel about some white-bearded man illegally breaking and entering into your house every year?! Scientists have calculated that Santa would have to deliver presents to 822 houses a second to deliver presents to all the children in the world!” He yelled back, slamming his paper plate down on the table.
“Whoah there, mates ! Let’s not be making assumptions here. We have no evidence of Santa ever committing crimes, nor do we have evidence of his existence at all!” Alan shouted, trying to break up the increasingly violent discussion.
“Good times, good times.”
Our time here at Exeter was limited, yes, but we made the best of our time. Now, at the last few days before we are all swept away by the wind and back into our old lives, we’ve taken the quiet hour to celebrate our time here, from Harkness discussions of Santa Claus to changing the desktop backgrounds of my fellow classmates to pictures of Nicholas Cage, and being able to speak up and contribute freely to the Harkness Table in class, and to be able to call Phillips Exeter Academy ‘home’ and truly mean it. I know I am applying for Exeter for high school, as the five week experience of being able to discuss global topics with intelligent and quick-witted peers at the Harkness Table I had here have sealed my decision to do so.So, farewell for now, Exeter, home sweet home away from home, and I truly hope I will see you again, in the near future.