Tasha Friesen was a Spanish and art double major from Goshen. She participated in choir and art club and designed layout for the campus newspaper, The Record, for four semesters.
What do you like most about Goshen and why?
Community. As much as I’ve enjoyed classes at GC, I’ve learned the most from conversations during 2 a.m. homework crises, lovingly-brewed cups of tea with healthy doses of real-life advice, and greetings collected like seashells while walking to class.
Why did you choose to come to Goshen College?
I grew up around Goshen. I was born into the College Mennonite Church congregation and spent Sunday afternoons wandering around campus and playing in Adelphian Fountain. Goshen has always been, and will always be, home. As a child, I idolized the college students I saw around campus—the fun they had, the weird clothes they wore and the obvious love they shared. As a student, I became a part of this.
How has Goshen College influenced your faith or worldview?
The community where I grew up—just outside of Goshen—is both privileged and conservative. In a school of 1,200, I was one of maybe 20 Mennonites. Beginning at a young age, I rarely shared my beliefs or took part in polarized discussions with peers, because my beliefs were often outnumbered. At Goshen, I feel that I can speak my mind and engage in open-minded conversation. Due to encouragement and feedback from my professors and peers, my faith has grown in leaps and bounds.
What do you hope to do with your degree?
I’d like to be a graphic designer who incorporates Spanish translation. In the short term, I want to use my Spanish degree to serve here in Goshen, as the Latino population continues to grow.
What advice would you give a prospective student?
The biggest thing that I’ve learned is that getting perfect grades isn’t everything. In high school, I never went out because I was always doing homework and reading books for fun. I worked so hard for my grades, only to realize after about a semester at college that, once I graduate, grades wouldn’t mean much. As my classes got harder—and I added extracurricular activities and part-time jobs—I gave up most of my social life to excel in my classes. But last year, I went abroad to Spain and Nicaragua. There I was, in amazing countries with incredible experiences, spending my weekends inside writing papers and researching linguistic patterns. Finally, something clicked. I learned that you can learn so much from people and experiences. But, you’ll have to step out from behind that computer every once in a while.
So here’s my advice: do well enough in class. Get decent grades, read the assignments and really learn something. Don’t waste your money or your parents’ money. Just don’t spend inordinate amounts of time perfecting papers and skimming textbooks when there are conversations to be had, walks to be taken, movies to laugh at, novels to cry over and relationships to form. Learn to learn from people and places more than you learn from books and websites.
What was an influential experience you’ve had outside the classroom?
Spanish majors at Goshen College are required to spend a total of two semesters abroad. I chose to travel to Alicante, Spain in the fall of 2013, then in Quito, Ecuador in the spring of 2014. Both experiences changed me and caused me to grow in ways I didn’t know I could. For one, I learned what it means to be privileged. Other study abroad programs are very different from Goshen College’s Study-Service Term. Second, I had to learn to trust my instincts and ask for help from those around me. I feel a pull to understand poverty from the other side—this desire to learn empathy rather than sympathy.