Hi! I'm Yitka - it's a Czech name, though my own heritage is Dutch and Swedish. I am a senior creative writing major with big dreams of changing the world with words, simple living, and movement - yoga, distance running, biking, swimming, snowboarding; you name it, I can't get enough of it.
Being able to work with my words creatively and hone my skills in college has been a long-standing dream of mine. Although I came to Oberlin with a narrow interest in fiction, I've branched out into creative nonfiction, translation, and most recently, poetry.
I stayed in Oberlin this past summer - an experience I can't recommend highly enough! - to intern for Oberlin College Press and FIELD magazine, an internationally recognized journal of contemporary poetry that's published right here on campus. I also work part time selling athletic shoes at a Dick's Sporting Goods in Elyria, a suburb of Cleveland - a job that has really allowed me to connect with the Ohio outside of Oberlin as well.
I also give campus tours to prospective students, help coordinate the Main Street Reading Series, and am currently organizing a 5K run/walk to raise money for the local public schools. This is my last semester before graduating, but I plan on sticking around for a few months afterward to work, volunteer, write, and continue processing all the growth and transformation that Oberlin has inspired in me.
Lorain County has an amazing set of metro parks all over the county, full of hiking/running paths, lakes, reservoirs, rivers, creeks, waterfalls, natural wetlands, tons of wildlife - and all linked by a bikeable set of country highways that make up the Back Roads and Beaches route.
Our president Marvin Krislov presented Dr. Morrison with several gifts, one of which included a note from her 91-year-old first grade teacher from Lorain, Ohio - a phenomenal moment to consider that this powerful, Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning, larger-than-life inspiration to me was once upon a time, merely a first grader.
I read that sentence again and again, then ran outside to my backyard, where my dad was doing some spring yard work and making pleasant small talk with the neighbors over the fence, and I promptly yelled to the skies, "I'm going to college!"
I'm pretty sure I can directly trace my penchant for list-making to the beginning of college. Something about Oberlin has not only forced me to develop stellar time management skills (which, okay, has gone hand in hand with fine-tuning my procrastination abilities) but has also inspired me to think, dream, and plan big.
As fun as the leprechaun cookies and green jello shots were, the best aspect of the day, for me, was the mass of adorable little kids running around. Little kids - much like pets, parents, and well-stocked refrigerators - are something you miss out on when you're away at college...
Several weeks ago, I found myself on a top floor balcony suite at a ski resort 300 miles away, talking and sharing laughs with a couple of the freshest talents out of Cleveland. How did I wind up there?
I'm not even a huge history buff, but there's something stirring to the soul about stumbling across an old, crumbling stone and barely being able to make out the engraved letters: Born a slave, died free.
I had envisioned myself waking up with the sun and birds each morning, going for a long run during which I'd plan out my writing for the day, then plunking down with my laptop and an oversized mug of fair-trade coffee at Oberlin Market and getting to work. (Nope.)
Forget that there was no hot water in my bathroom and that the hotel gym cost an extra $18 a day to work out at; I was delighted with our 13th floor window overlooking Lake Michigan, and the opportunity to spend some time with Linda, whom I adore.
I've already got crazy nostalgia for the long, lazy summer days spent lounging in the hammock on our porch, the nights of impromptu jam sessions with my more musically inclined friends, the smell of freshly baked bread rising up from our kitchen.
She told me how excited she was about the reading, and went on with something to the effect of: "I feel like all you creative writing majors have this separate writing world you live in sometimes. It's obviously such a huge part of your lives, and yet most of the rest of us never get to be a part of it."
Once people get over the novelty of Dorothy jokes and tornado questions - inevitable, I've learned, when I'm outside of my home state and meeting new people - it's actually pretty cool to be from somewhere unusual. Especially when I get the opportunity to share my hometown and state with other Obies, many of whom have never even been so far west.
On those runs, I reflected a lot on the love that's developed in me over the last three years for the town of Oberlin, and I began working out ideas in my head about how to connect more with the local community.