Allow me to (re)introduce myself.
My name is Chris Peterson. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the new Chris, replacing the old Chris, who replaced me.
It’s all very straightforward.
See, I worked here from 2009-2012, when I went on a somewhat spontaneous year’s leave to complete my master’s degree in Comparative Media Studies. A few weeks ago, on an unseasonably cold and rainy June day, I graduated from MIT, with my friends Elizabeth, Hamsika, Jenny, and others. And there was much rejoicing.
The last year was one of the most intense, incredible, challenging and rewarding of my life. I spent almost every day at the Center for Civic Media at the Media Lab. I met brilliant people from across the world and worked on interesting projects. I snacked. I read books. I started doing yoga. I stopped eating junk food. I went to conferences. I went to parties. I went to my room and spent countless hours alone with my research.
I wrote. A lot. I wrote snarky essays about Star Wars & politics. I wrote heartbroken essays about the Marathon Bombings. I wrote about industrial journalism. I wrote a thesis on user-generated censorship. Sometimes I’m surprised I still have words left.
Being an MIT student is strange. It’s wonderful. It’s hard. It took the shape of what I expected and yet was full of stuff I’ve never imagined. But the core experience was the people. Every day I spent in the Lab was a day surrounded by brilliant, engaged, motivated people. They took their work seriously without taking themselves seriously. They don’t need to: when you’re that good, you can wear jeans or blue hair or have a Dr. Who tattoo and no one cares because you’re that good.
The best compliment we got at Civic all year came from a longtime reporter. He’d recently retired after 40 years at the Boston Globe and spent his Thursdays hanging out in our lab helping out with projects. I asked him why. He told me it was because he loved our energy; the idea that if something wasn’t working we could just burn the broken ways down and start something new. He was right.
Now I’m back. It’s strange transitioning back to the office – a little like visiting home after studying abroad in a foreign city. Things move at a different pace, with a different flow. It’s a change.
But it’s a good change. I still love Admissions. I still love MIT, although being a student has changed the tenor and timbre of that emotion beyond the swooning naiveté of my staff days into the hard-bitten deep seated love of an old married couple bickering over cronuts on the bus. I still believe deeply in the work that we do here. And I look forward to what comes next.
More to come soon. But for now: it’s good to be back.