The schools that my brother and I attended were small…both were Mennonite schools, run by the two different Mennonite churches in the area. The first one, we attended until I was in 2nd grade, then our church started its own school, and that was where we attended all the way through high school.
Our teachers in the new school were the pastor of our church, his wife teaching 1st grade, and eventually 2 of their daughters. The curriculum we used was the A.C.E. curriculum, which didn’t require much in the way of teaching…which was good, because the pastor was doing algebra along with us, and was no help in answering questions. Also, my brother and I discovered problems in the science books…things which were also wrong in the answers. But, we eventually graduated…even though a lot of our friends didn’t. The Mennonite community that we grew up in is still a very rural, agricultural community, and post-secondary education is not high on the priority list. So, our graduating class (yes, my little brother and I graduated together!) was 7 people strong…4 of which were graduating a year early.
At some point during that school year, we visited a couple of colleges, trying to figure out where we were going to be going the next year. We visited Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa Falls, GA, and Columbia Bible College in Columbia, SC. My brother really, really wanted to attend Clemson University in Clemson, SC, but our parents were not convinced that was a good idea. September came, and we headed off to school in Columbia, SC.
Until we headed off to school, I didn’t realize how sheltered we were growing up. After all, WE were the ones more sophisticated than all of our friends…we’d graduated from high school, we didn’t wear all home-made clothes, and we were headed to college. In the big city of Columbia, SC, we were little fishies. Somehow, I also went to college thinking that I couldn’t make friends.
Because we were such oddballs in our community, I had almost no close friends growing up. The 2 friends I really had were also from a non-Mennonite background…actually, never even attended the Mennonite church, but rather, went to the Presbyterian Church in town.
College was a blast! I was free of my parents’ strictures, and though we were bound to live by the rules of the school, we had a ton of fun. People to talk to, ping pong, eating what I wanted, READING(!), friends….all these things meant that my first year at college was a real learning experience.
My first roommate was a senior. She was great for me…she kept me grounded…but, we were only roommates for the first quarter of my freshman year. My second roommate was also only for a quarter…after that, she moved off campus, and got married. For my last quarter that year, I was in a room by myself.