Spring Summer 08

The Core


Off to the Races

Practice Makes Perfect

Portraits of the Artists


Editor's Note

Vox Populi

Irrefutable Fun

Broadened Horizons

The Searchers

Fair Trade

Diamond Anniversary

Project Help

From Maroon to Marine

Dinosaur Discoverer

Go Ask Alumni

Vox Populi

Morning Glory

A bracing winter ritual strengthens the ties that bind Dodd-Mead residents together.

It’s 5:30 on a cold January morning and your alarm is going off. All else is silent and the warmth of your bed persuades you to stay. For a moment, you forget what you are supposed to be doing and why; your first class is not for hours and it seems like only hours before that you fell asleep. Yet, as you begin to question your soundness of mind, you hear something reassuring: another alarm going off next door, soft footsteps down the hall, a mumbled greeting. Knowing you are not alone, you step out onto the cold floor, once again rising to take part in the winter quarter tradition of Kangeiko.

To the uninitiated, spending a week getting up before dawn to make daily treks to the Henry Crown Field House seems absurd. Kangeiko, part of the Kuviasungnerk winter festival, celebrates this absurdity and encourages its participants to revel in both the joy and hardship of winter. For four days, students, faculty, and staff gather at the field house to run, learn the “salute to the sun” yoga exercise, and engage in other activities. On the fifth day, those who have lasted the week journey to the Point to salute the sun in person as it rises over Lake Michigan. The lucky are rewarded with a striking juxtaposition of sun and snow—a contrast not only seen but felt, as body heat and strength of spirit collide with and endure the frigid air.

To the faithful, Kangeiko may mean many things. It is a test of choice and perseverance: mental will overcoming the mundane and wintry gloom, searching hard for the beauty that is there, and respecting it for what it is. It is about the endurance of body and mind, and the acknowledgment that there are things worth getting up for—things more important than school, things that are sometimes easy to forget.

To me, Kangeiko has meant more and more each year. As a prospective student, I read about the event and made idle plans to participate. When I matriculated later that year and became part of Dodd-Mead House, I was blind to the serendipity of my placement. With Dodd-Mead as Kangeiko’s single most devoted house, winning the prize for participation more years in a row than most people can recall, I soon became one with the tradition and came to appreciate it not just for its initial absurdist appeal, but also for what it meant within the house.

As a first-year, I felt like part of something bigger than myself, more important than my own motivations and goals. Everyone was in it together, sharing the same sleep deprivation and new memories. As a second-year, lingering nostalgia made me intent on sharing the tradition (and the love) with the new class. During my third year, I noticed how Kangeiko seemed to be a turning point for the house. First-years stopped being “first-years.” Knowledge of each other became deeper as pretenses were dropped. At 6 in the morning, only a few things matter: health and happiness, hope and love, your new home, your new family.

For my fourth and final year, my cohort and I followed a tradition put in place before our time. As we had seen the students in class years before ours do, and as we now appreciated in full, we took an item of clothing off after every yoga salute. It was as if we were challenging the sun, challenging the tradition itself, to become more difficult. We have come this far, what now? Is this supposed to be hard? We are together, my house and I, the sun and the sky and the frozen lake, my fellow fourth-years who have been through it all, doing yoga against the icy earth. In that moment, we could do anything, and in that moment I challenged the sun to make it harder, to stop rising, to not let it end.

Despite lasting just one week, Kangeiko runs through the heart of my house. Just as Kangeiko is part of Dodd-Mead, Dodd-Mead will forever be a part of me. No matter where I go in life, the sun and sky will follow, challenging and reminding me. I will not forget: that one time, together, we made the sun rise.