Editor’s Note: Shortly after Cameron Swallow joined her husband, President John Swallow, at Carthage in August 2017, she decided to get to know her new home. She kicked off a “Welcome Home Tour” and invited Carthage students, faculty, staff, and alumni to be her tour guides. She started a blog and traveled with Carthaginians to different spots in Kenosha, Racine, and beyond. Now in year two of her husband’s presidency, Cameron is continuing the Welcome Home Tour in order to get to know Carthage — and its people and connections — even better.
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Where do you go at the end of a tour? Home.
Two years ago, when I joined my husband, John Swallow, at Carthage, I kicked off a “Welcome Home Tour” and invited Carthage students, alumni, faculty, and staff to show me their Kenosha. I’ve visited more than 40 different places with more than a hundred Carthaginians.
Now, as I look forward to my third Homecoming Weekend at Carthage, I realize my Welcome Home Tour has come to an end.
Why? Because I’m home.
I feel at home at Carthage and in Kenosha. And this weekend, I get to be the one to welcome other Carthaginians home.
Trinity House is definitely home — and not just to John and me. In August and September, both our children returned from overseas — and joined us here, at home, for a period of time. They don’t have childhood friends here, but they have come to know the house, campus, and town as more than just a stopover laundry facility. Sophie served with me at the Grace Welcome Center’s hot meals program and met with leaders of several local nonprofits to learn more about her chosen field before heading back to college. Bard is auditing Greek and German language courses at Carthage in extra preparation for graduate school next year. Bard and Sophie now have favorite restaurants, regular routines, and people they are getting to know in their parents’ hometown.
Here are some other things that make me feel at home:
* Being part of the Community Projects committee for the College’s 150 Years of Carthage Women celebration. Our committee has five projects planned for connecting Carthage to the community: the Readers For Leaders program with United Way, a guided tour of our campus arboretum with materials prepared by Carthage students, presentations in Lutheran congregations and synod gatherings about our 150 Years celebration, a professional women’s cycling race paired with a Girls On The Run event with local schoolchildren, and art projects featuring nurses completed in school classrooms which can then be displayed in hospitals and doctor’s offices.
* Being back in the classroom as a Spanish student, taking 3010 alongside a new group of students. I really missed having regular student contact last year when I wasn’t taking a class.
* Serving on several boards of nonprofits in Kenosha (Kenosha Literacy Council, Coalition for Dismantling Racism, and ELCA Outreach), being part of the outreach efforts at my church, and volunteering at Grace Welcome Center and Brass Elementary School.
* Being part of this year’s Leadership Kenosha cohort, learning systematically about the city, county, business, and nonprofit structures and how they connect.
* Playing bluegrass music with Flat Creek Highway in venues around southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
* Working with Better Angels, a nationwide, grassroots organization dedicated to the depolarization of America’s political conversation. We have hosted two workshops in Kenosha/Racine, and I’ve traveled to several other areas of Wisconsin to get other groups started hosting workshops. Some student groups will be hosting Better Angels debates, “seeking truth not victory,” on campus this year.
I loved my Welcome Home Tour; it was a wonderful way to begin my time at Carthage and in Kenosha. I’m grateful to all my tour guides, and I give them a lot of credit for the exposure and guidance that led me to my current status of belonging in my new community.
It’s good to be home!