Neviah Waldron '24 - Introduction


pic2 Hi everyone! My name is Neviah (NIV-ee-uh), but you can call me Niv. I use they/them pronouns and I’m from New York City. I was born and raised in Queens but I just moved to Brooklyn in February. I’m a rising sophomore (I was indeed a COVID-19 first year) and I hope to major in Religion with a focus on Asian and African religion and spirituality.

I’m involved in the Creative Writing group on campus and am a part of the Black Student Union (BSU). I will be a part of The Indicator, a literary magazine at Amherst College, the African and Caribbean Student Union (ACSU), and hopefully the Archery Club in the Fall. I’m also excited to finally check out the Multicultural Resource Center) MRC and the Queer Resource Center (QRC) in person for the first time!

When I’m not in class, you can find me:

  • Taking a walk in the woods, to the farm, or through the Bird Sanctuary (and
    fanning away bugs the entire time)
  • Strolling around with a milkshake from Schwemm’s Cafe
  • Faerie-watching throughout campus and on the way to town
  • Stargazing or moongazing in a field with friends (or alone)
  • Around town, probably at The Works, LimeRed Teahouse, Shanghai Gourmet, or Mass Vintage

I’m so excited to share my Amherst experience with you! If you ever have any questions or even if you’d just like to chat, you can email me at nwaldron24@amherst.edu. Enjoy <3

My Last Work Week

Hello friends!

blog 5 pic 1 This week is actually the last week I’ll be spending here over this summer as a tour guide.  The end has come far too soon, but I’m really grateful for all the good times I have had so far, especially with the other tour guides!  I’ll be leaving to participate in another internship called Rites of Passage (R.O.P.), which is a huge art project created by and for women/femmes of color.  I will be working alongside five other interns and a huge production team to put together a big house with each room in the house representing a different rite of passage for women of color through art.  I’m really excited to get started, but I’m also pretty sad to be leaving this job.  So in this bittersweet moment, I thought I’d share some fun little parts about this summer that I enjoyed, both with the people I met working as a tour guide and with the friends I’d already had by my side this summer.

 

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One of the first moments I want to share with you is pizza making!  My friends and I have a tradition where every Thursday we would go to the big kitchen in between Greenway C and Greenway D and make pizzas.  Ayo and I usually go on Wednesday evenings to Big Y and pick up pizza dough, pizza sauce, and a block of mozzarella cheese, and then store it in my fridge overnight for the next day.  Before they leave work, Ayo picks fresh basil and oregano from the Book & Plow Farm and then we meet up with the other materials (cornmeal, a knife, pans) and head over to the Greenways.  Our best friend Jordan lets us in since he lives there, so we happily share the pizza with him as a reward :) (kidding - out of friendship).  I can confidently blog 5 pic 3 say now that I can make a great pizza, which makes me feel like a proud New Yorker, and we are always so happy and full by the end of our meal.  This is definitely one of the things I’m going to miss the most, but I hope we get the time to do this every once in a while during the school year. 

 

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Another moment I want to share is basketball!  Now, I am most definitely not one of the most athletic people out there - I don’t move unless I have to.  Doing tours is the most I move during a day.  So when the other tour guides suggested we play basketball together one afternoon, I very reluctantly agreed.  I thought to myself, “I’m not even going to change into any shorts or athletic wear because I am barely going to move at all.”  Boy, was I wrong!  Jess, Brandon, and Manny especially had me on my feet the whole time, and my competitive nature didn’t help at all.  We had all gathered on one of the half basketball courts by the Greenways and done a bit of shooting practice, hyping each other up when anyone made it in.  But then someone suggested we make teams and actually play, and that’s when things got real.  I was so into the game that I had gotten over my opposition to moving and sweating, and we all had such a good time!  About half of us weren’t very good at basketball, but we would all encourage each other, regardless of what team we were on when we were ready to make a point.  I remember trying to shoot the ball from the 3-point line and missing, but then Jess (who was on the other team) handed the ball back to me, smiled, and told me to try again as the others continued to cheer me on.  It was the most supportive game ever - we weren’t even keeping track of the points, we were just enjoying ourselves!  It was the best time I’d ever had playing a sport!

And lastly, I wanted to tell you guys about something small, but arguably the most important part of my time here: bubbles!  One day, while we were all in the common room of Garman looking for a missing flip phone that we’d have to use for our tours, Jess found a bubble wand.  It was the greatest thing that ever happened to us.  We had all been tired and miserable from the heat that was plaguing the northeast, and this did wonders to lighten our moods.  Jess took pictures of us with her polaroid camera as we all had fun blowing bubbles and trying to keep them in the air without touching them.  Yes, technically, we are all adults, BUT we’re adults that know how to have fun.
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So, this is the end.  I’m now finishing up this blog post on Friday, so it’s finally my last day.  The other tour guides (read: Bella and Jess) have been begging me not to go, and I wish I could stay, but there are exciting adventures ahead.  I gave my last in-person tour today, and I’m proud of myself because I’d like to think it went pretty well.  I’ll carry my purple converses (which all of us tour guides have) with me to my next internship as a memory of the admissions family and the good times.  Obviously, I’m making the biggest deal out of this for little reason - we all go to school here, and I’ll see them in the Fall.  But anyway!

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This was such a fulfilling and wonderful internship, and this has so far been one of my favorite summers ever.  I’m really grateful for everything I’ve experienced, for my coworkers and my bosses, for the families who came on tours, and even for all the walking because at least I got some exercise.

Thanks for reading my blog, regardless of how short this time was.  Bye friends!

 

July 16, 2021

Flayvors

Hello friends!

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Pretty much the only thing I can think about on hot days is ways to stay cool.  One of my favorite things to do (even when it’s not very hot) is eat ice cream.  I was with the other tour guides one Friday afternoon around the end of the workday, and we all agreed that we should do something to celebrate the end of our first week of in-person tours.  I had heard about this one popular ice cream shop called Flayvors around the area in Hadley, and we decided to take a trip there.  But ice cream wasn’t all they had; they had live COWS!

blog 4 pic 2 For context, cows are my absolute favorite animals.  I think they’re sweet and gentle and so adorable, and even thinking about them brings me joy.  Once, my friends and I had passed through a large farm on our drive back to campus from Trader Joe’s and there was an abundance of cows grazing in the fields.  I got so overjoyed that I started to cry, and we weren’t even that close to them.  Honestly, to say that I love cows feels like an understatement.  I have a little cow statue that lives on my desk in my dorm room and a cow plushie (named Opal) who guards my bed.  I even think I would be willing to conquer my fear of insects for the sake of taking care of cows.  But anyway!

As I was saying, Flayvors has ice cream and live cows.  All of their products are organic, and their cows are very well taken care of.  The milk they get from the cows is used to make all the ice cream that they sell.  Besides ice cream, they also sell other things like raw milk, cheese, and homemade hot foods.  It’s part of the Cook Farm, which is an over 100-year-old family-run dairy farm, so going there is also a great way to support the local businesses in the community.

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blog 4 pic 5 There are nine tour guides, but only seven of us ended up going to Flayvors.  Still, this was too many people for Jessica to fit into her five-seat car, so she had to take two trips driving us all to Flayvors.  I was in the first batch of folks to end up at the farm and while she drove back to campus to pick up the rest, I wandered around and admired the cows.  (I did cry upon arrival, but I have no shame for happy tears.)  I went up to where the cows were being kept and had such a fun time talking to them all.  They’re not the best at carrying conversations, but this one cow with an ear tag that read “Stunt Undenied” responded to me quite a lot, especially when I called the name on the tag.  I think we built a special connection :). 

When the rest of the tour guides reached the farm, we placed our orders for ice cream.  I got a vanilla sundae with strawberries, chocolate sauce, and a cherry on top because I like to stick to the classics.  By the way, I was surprised by how fast they had finished my order.  There was quite the line when we got there, but it moved pretty quickly.  I had my ice cream in what felt like less than two minutes!  I give the service five stars.

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Honestly, I thought that the live cows were the best thing they had there and that they just added to the experience of otherwise just fine ice cream.  But when we started to eat our treats, we all could agree that this was literally the best ice cream any of us had ever tasted.  Even Brandon began to cry because of how tasty it was!

Overall, I would say that Flayvors is literally perfect, and a totally wonderful experience for anybody who goes there.  I give it a perfect 10/10.  I really hope you get the chance to visit, friends!

July 7th, 2021

Book & Plow Farm

Hello Friends!

blog 3 pic 1 Today I want to tell you about a cool place on campus called the Book & Plow Farm.  I first visited the farm on my second day here and I was immediately struck by how lovely it was!  They grow lots of beautiful and colorful flowers (which you can put in your hair like my friend Spencer here); foods like potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots; and herbs like sage, rosemary, and lemongrass.

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On my first visit, I quickly learned that this was the perfect place for a close-by outing with friends.  Upon arrival, we were told that we were free to pick any of the flowers or vegetables.  I am actually quite afraid of bugs (butterflies and ladybugs included) and spiders though, so I was afraid to get too near to the plants.  But someone I had met that day had kindly offered to pick the flowers I wanted for me and put them in a water bottle to take back to my dorm.  Their name is Kendall and I’m happy to say that we’re good friends now :). We were also accompanied by one of the coolest people I know, Kiiren. And the flowers looked so pretty in my room!

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blog 3 pic 7 Even more than the flowers, I love the herbs that grow at the farm.  I’m a big fan of using things like sage and rosemary as part of spiritual practices, but I also like to boil the herbs and put them in tea.  But like anybody, I don’t want to have to spend money every time I want fresh materials.  I’m glad to say that I didn’t have that problem here!  My dear one and I were delighted to pick out the herbs we wanted, and we were even more delighted to see that there were so many of them growing.  That way, we could pick for ourselves and there would still be enough left for others.  If you’re curious, more of the herbs there include anise hyssop, lemon balm, mint, spearmint, thyme, lemongrass, oregano, and chives.

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Something I find really cool about the Book & Plow Farm is that it’s not just run by staff members.  Students work there too!  I believe both during the school year and during the summer you can find students working at the farm.  This summer, my dear one, Ayo, spends their days on campus working hard to plant veggies, get rid of pests, and tend to the crops.  I accompanied them to the greenhouse while they watered plants last Sunday.

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Coming from NYC, I don’t think I could’ve ever imagined myself saying “Yeah, I know some farmers.”  So I feel pretty cool for that.  It makes me so happy to know that the farm is in good hands, especially considering the fact that the food produced by the farm also goes to our dining hall.  We know just where our food is coming from, and there’s something really special about personally knowing who’s taking care of it.  I love that I can walk through these fields thinking, “I can’t wait to eat that for dinner soon!”  And I can’t imagine the pride my dear one and others must feel when they pick up food from our dining hall and get to eat the food they grew themselves.  It’s also fun to just pick a cherry tomato off the vine (or have someone else pick it for you) and eat it fresh, if not for a meal.

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It’s a bit of a walk from campus, but you should definitely make your way down to the Book & Plow Farm.  Maybe you’ll also get to make memories or new friendships like I did, friends :)

June 16th, 2021

Favorite Spots Pt. 2

Hello friends!

blog 2 pic 1 This is a continuation of my last post.  Now I’ll tell you about a spot that has a very special place in my heart.  It’s a spot that’s accessible by walking either through a section of the woods, around the path to the Book & Plow Farm, or down the bike path.  This special place is the Bird Sanctuary.  The Bird Sanctuary is a wide, enormous field and a great spot to witness sunsets and point out constellations.  When I’d first seen it, I’d felt like my entire life had changed right then and there.  Never before had I laid eyes on something so beautiful and serene.  Let me tell you about my experiences there :).

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If you take the path through the woods, you’ll pass by a cute little mailbox with the words “Free Poems” written on it in red.  You’ll come across the Poetry Box.  If you open it, you’ll see pieces of paper with poetry written on it.  You can sit on the little wooden bench beside the box and write a poem and leave it inside, and you can even take one of the poems for yourself.  I’ve had my own anonymous moments of self-expression and left poems in the box.  It’s been fun to check back and see my poems gone!  I hope you’ll come and write a poem yourself and feel the sense of fulfillment of having your poem resonate with someone so strongly.

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The end of the path through the woods is gorgeous, especially in the fall.  I’ve befriended a few trees there; they’re quite kind.  The ground was covered with red and orange leaves on the day that this picture was taken.  It was great to see the wonders of a fall in New England.

You’ll next cross over the bike path (which you can walk or bike or rollerskate down whenever you want!) and finally, walk into the Bird Sanctuary.  My jaw had dropped when I first saw it and I had been instantly filled with this feeling of peace and joy.  My dear one and I had decided to take our shoes off and run barefoot in the grass.  I did feel a little silly, but it was so liberating!  All this open space, right here in front of us.  I couldn’t believe how much I’d missed out on by spending all my years in the city.  I hadn’t even considered myself much of a nature person, but there I was, frolicking and prancing in a field under the setting sun.      blog 2 pic 5

blog 2 pic 6 Besides practicing your Disney princess field run, this is also a good place to just sit and relax with your friends.  My friends and I like to bring some blankets and some snacks and just have a picnic and enjoy the scenery and the air.  As much hesitance as I have when it comes to spending extended periods of time outside (I’m terrified of bugs), I never say no to spending half my day at the Bird Sanctuary.  I hope you find yourself having a nice time here, friends.

June 14th, 2021

Favorite Spots Pt. 1

Hello friends!

blog 1 pic 1 As I mentioned before, I’m from New York City.  I grew up in a concrete jungle, and the only “mountains” I’d ever seen were made of glass or brick or metal for the first eighteen or so years of my life.  So, as you can imagine, moving from an urban environment to a place like Amherst was a pretty big shift, landscape-wise.  When I first got here, I was awestruck by things like the giant, lush mountains that you could see from Memorial Hill and the perfect view of stars at night unhindered by light pollution.  I’d bet that there are a bunch of other city-slickers out there who have little experience with the natural world, so why don’t I show you some of my favorite outdoor spots by the college?

blog 1 pic 2 One of the first places I’d like to show you is the woods.  There are different paths to take that will end up with you surrounded by trees and fresh air, but I’ll take you to one of the paths across the train tracks first, behind our Science Center.  I’d walked along the train tracks on a particularly lovely day with someone dear to me for a while (by the way, the train that runs through here is quite noisy, so there was no fear of getting run over).  After a bit, we’d noticed a conspicuous trail leading into the woods beside us.  Now, I know what you’re thinking - “Niv, why would you just follow a random path into the woods?”  Well, the path looked well-tread and we’d spotted a young jogger with an Amherst shirt through the trees, so we’d figured it was safe enough.  Anyway!  On we’d walked, and what we’d seen felt so magical.  We’d been greeted by a chorus of chirps from a family of bluejays and happened upon a bridge guarded by a tree with a little stream running under it.  Nowadays, I return to that bridge to clear my head and greet the guard tree with a friendly pat before sitting down and swinging my feet above the water (the bridge is much sturdier than it looks).

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Perhaps my dear one and I romanticize nature too much, but we both fell in love with this place and its little quirks.  One of my favorite features is this pair of trees connected by a giant branch that hovers over the path.  It looks like it was strategically placed, or like the trees had each tried to greet each other.  We were - and still are - both thoroughly convinced that these trees create a gateway into another world.  Whatever dimension we step into when we pass under the arch is a wonderful one, because we are filled with joy every time we visit it.

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I could go on and on about the wonders of this part of the woods, but I’ll end it here and leave the rest up for you to see yourself when you’re on campus, friends.  Tune in for part 2 soon!

 

June 10th, 2021