Last fall, Chatham welcomed its inaugural full-time student residents to the Eden Hall campus. We spoke with Graduate Resident Director Catherine Giles (Master of Sustainability, ’16) and Tenzin Lhakmon (MFA Creative Writing, ’17) about their time spent on this unique campus.
What sorts of things are available for you to do outside of class?
Tenzin: Eden Hall is a campus that is close to earth, environmentally speaking. You can hike the trails and there are events that you can take part in. And usually we have one or two events happening every week. For example, I recently took part in an event for soap making and yoga.
There’s a bowling alley in the Lodge, as well as a billiards table. We have workout equipment on the third floor of Orchard Hall. The trails remain open for the entire day and I’m constantly finding new paths that I hadn’t previously explored or realized connected. We have several consistent, popular events, such as Mug Club, Yoga, and Bluegrass Jam. And in the summer, students, faculty, and community members can come to Eden Hall Open Swim at the pool behind the Lodge. – Catherine Giles, MSUS ’16
Where do people socialize?
Catherine: Right now, people mostly socialize at the Lodge or where there’s food. In the future, I anticipate most people will socialize in the Commons. When there are events, like the Bluegrass Jam, we can get quite a few people to attend. Currently, most students, unless they live at Orchard, are only at Eden Hall for class.
How present is the mission of sustainability in day-to-day life?
Tenzin: Living at Eden put us at the hearts of the sustainability mission and having to sort out your trash or your leftovers every day is an education in itself!! And recently I learned the dorm uses solar power for electricity that we have around the clock. It feels good to be a part of that.
Catherine: The mission of sustainability is everywhere at Eden Hall. I’m trained as a Tour Guide as well, and from that, I know all about how the infrastructure, down to the metals chosen for the outside of the buildings, were sustainably harvested or retrieved, and have a very specific purpose in the grand scheme of Eden Hall.
Can you share a favorite moment you’ve had here that you might not have had living in a more traditional campus environment?
Catherine: At night, the paths are illuminated with lights aimed downward. In the summer, walking from the turnabout to the Amphitheatre, these lights attract insects. Frogs and toads frequently sit in front of the lights and feast for hours. And one time, I saw the Eden Hall bear. I was on the shuttle with another resident when the driver shouted, “Look there’s the bear!” and we all turned to see the bear running in front of the Lodge, across the street, and into the far tree line. Shadyside has squirrels, not bears!
Tenzin: Just living so close to nature, and also to the people. I feel like I have formed a very close and genuine relationship with the people here. The chefs and cooks at Eden Hall feel like family. And I am thankful to the Eden Hall Campus for bringing these people into my life. I really am.
What’s your favorite thing about living at Eden Hall?
Tenzin: The environment, the freshness of the surroundings, the wind, the flowers, the trees, the calmness… and of course, the people.
Catherine: My favorite thing about living at Eden Hall is that it’s so nature-oriented. I’m immersed in the wilderness, but my room is never too far away. Even when you’re “lost” in the woods, you always know where you are and how to get back home. As beautiful and quaint, as Shadyside is, Eden Hall just simply has more nature. I’ve seen the bear. I’ve seen the albino deer. I’ve stayed up late catching toads and getting my feet wet in the grass. On a cloudless night, you can lie on the Amphitheatre stage and clearly see the stars.