Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Stories From the Common Room

Like many of my fellow graduating seniors, I’ve been spending a lot of time the past few days looking through old photos on Facebook, building up the mental collage that will undoubtedly flash before my eyes as I walk up to receive my diploma.

As I pushed back through the albums, I couldn’t help but notice the inordinate amount of time spent in common rooms. Beyond its traditional sense, the kitchen and couches that represented a nexus of activity for our floor in Darnall Hall, the common room has relocated over the years to reflect important changes in my life, creating comfort zones for me and my friends to share experiences, build relationships and try to map out the road ahead. Two short stories about two different common rooms that developed for me illustrate part of my very uncommon experience at Georgetown:

**Furniture Wars**

It didn’t matter that roaches and other forms of wildlife would scurry around its tiles, or that the television mostly played foreign stations: My Darnall floormates and I loved our common room. No one has quite figured out what makes Darnall’s residents so characteristically quirky, but during this particular meeting our common room had become our barracks. The floor two above us had been stealing a couch from our sanctuary for weeks. We set out to teach them a lesson.

At approximately 4 a.m. our team, consisting of everyone from our largest athletes to our skinniest bookworms, assembled. We then tiptoed up into enemy territory and took our assigned posts, some acting as lookouts while others headed for the furniture. By half past we had moved everything – tables, chairs, sofas, the microwave, the refrigerator, even the community living agreement – to the Darnall basement floor next to the laundry room. We arranged the furniture to look like an exact replica of its original home and posted a sign labeling it as a community lounge. Five hours later, our hall director sent a Darnall-wide e-mail expressing her immense disappointment and threatening sanctions, though we suspect even she must have had a chuckle when she saw the morning custodial staff relaxing in their new break room.

It’s hard to say what possessed our group of relatively smart freshmen to act in this juvenile way, yet it’s become an often-retold story that encapsulates just how important the common room was to us. Many miles away from home and adjusting to a new one, we would all gather around for adventures like those to build a rich sense of family amid a group of strangers. Though my common room moved to apartments and my family has grown significantly since, the friendships I made within Darnall have endured strongly to today.

**Finding A Voice**

Rangila was just a week away, and we were all feeling the pressure of midterms. Our lines were still falling flat, most of our jokes had lost their punch and our plot had no resolution. But no matter how late it got into the night, I could see that my fellow scriptwriters and actors couldn’t wipe the grins off their faces,and knew that our laughter would continue to echo through our makeshift rehearsal space in the basement of Copley Hall.

Awaaz, meaning “voice,” was entering its fourth year as Georgetown’s unofficial South Asian theater group and third year with me as one of its directors. Over the past four years, I saw a distinct shift in the narratives we wrote and the sense of humor we were developing. We relied less on innuendo and stereotypes, setting out to tell a story about the challenges that come with understanding and expressing our heritage. These challenges had resonated especially for me, as my hometown’s large immigrant community made me uncertain of the degree to which I would embrace my South Asian identity at Georgetown.

Although those questions would emerge frequently, few venues created such a safe space for this dialogue than the warm, stale-smelling Copley Multi-Purpose Room, where comedy and cultural awareness bounced against its walls. It was with Awaaz that I first performed in Gaston Hall, the catalyst to four years of heavy involvement in campus events; it was only fitting that after my last performance with the group as the hosts of Asiafest, we returned to our Copley common room to collect ourselves and celebrate.

aybe it’s not so wise to place such significance and confidence in these landmark locations as it only makes it harder to tear away from them. But I also find comfort in knowing that these safe spaces helped build incredible friendships that transcend geography. Maybe our next common rooms will crop up in new cities; maybe they’ll be virtual. Wherever we’re headed, it was a serendipitous fortune to find such amazing people in these rooms over the years, and I have Georgetown to thank for that.

Anupam Chakravarty is a senior in the School of Foreign Service, a former secretary general of the North American Invitational Model United Nations, a performer and master of ceremonies at Rangila and a New Student Orientation captain.

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