How I Knew Gonzaga was Home

A group of students sits in a circle on the grass, under a tree.

October 01, 2020
Brandon Webb ('23) & Jacob Peterson ('23)

Brandon Webb ('23)

Knowing that GU was home for me was not a major personal experience, but more of a unique observation I had while spending time with new friends. I had the pleasure of being in the Global Citizenship LLC on the fifth floor of Coughlin Hall and I shared the floor with a couple of international students. Throughout the semester I got to know them: David from Panama had been to the US but had not consistently spoken English before, and Murad from Azerbaijan had been to the US one time before but had never adapted to a life outside of Eastern Europe. Even though these two guys are from small countries, and in Murad’s case, a country that I had never heard of before, everyone we ran into when I would hang out with them was extremely nice and generous. There was no point during the first semester where someone from Gonzaga, and even Spokane, was not incredibly gracious and welcoming when they talked to David and Murad.  

Eventually, they introduced me to their friends from the International Student Union, which consisted of people from many different countries. Everyone acted the same way to me as everyone in the GU community acted to them. On the outside, it seemed to me that Gonzaga was not culturally diverse, and by the numbers, others might assume that as well. But my experience within the first couple of months in Spokane was the exact opposite of what many would expect. This was a pleasant surprise and something that I did not think would make Gonzaga feel like home, but it did. I knew that my home was a place where everyone was included no matter what they looked like or sounded like, or where they were from. That's when I knew that Gonzaga was officially my home away from home. 

Jacob Peterson ('23)

The last thing I expected to happen upon arriving at Gonzaga was to make great friends on the first attempt. A few months before school was about to start, my parents convinced me to attend a pre-orientation program so that I could settle into Spokane before the start of the school year. I really didn’t want to go because I wanted to stay home for an extra week so that I could see my friends for a few more days before leaving. Looking back on it now, I am so glad that I decided to go for it. After a few days at RISE (Rooted in Solidarity & Engagement), I had already established a great group of friends that had many of the same interests as me. I would say that I felt like Gonzaga was home right from the beginning. Everyone that I met was so welcoming, and it was really nice to experience many well-meaning and driven students at RISE and at Gonzaga. By the end of the first semester, the small group that I had met from RISE had blossomed into a larger one, and I would even say that they are some of my best friends.  

I knew that Gonzaga was home right from the beginning of the first year, and now, in my second year, it is even more clear how much this campus is home to me. Even though it was a hard decision to make, leaving for college one week earlier so that I could meet some of the most amazing people ever is something that I would never want to take back. I think that it is super important to understand that where your parents and/or high school friends are will always be home, but there is nothing wrong with opening yourself up to making new friends and establishing Gonzaga as your other home. As a very close friend of mine put it: “Your friends will only grow larger.” Even though I see my friends from my hometown a lot less, they are still some of my closest friends, and I have not gotten out of touch with them. Since coming to GU, my family has just gotten bigger.