I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to work on for my capstone when I sat down on the first day of class last week. I’d just spent the second half of the fall semester working on an immersive essay about Detroit’s Jewish community, and I still felt like I’d barely scratched the surface of a topic that was incredibly important to me. Capstone seemed like the perfect opportunity to expand on my research and incorporate as many perspectives and as much history and nuance as possible.
But then at the end of class on that first day, T asked us to write a few things we were interested, passionate, or curious about on an index card. I paused when I reached that question, and then wrote down some topics that have been at the forefront of my mind recently: cooking (I’ve been trying to find a new hobby and build life skills), letters (I’m taking an English class about the art of letter writing), and my grandma (in preparation for my letter-writing class, my dad had recently unearthed a stack of my grandma’s old correspondences for me). Immediately a new idea emerged — what if I worked through my grandma’s recipes, reflecting on our relationship as I baked her classic dishes? And what if I put that all into a cookbook that incorporated images of her letters, too?
I came into our pitch workshops with four ideas, but as soon as I said the cookbook pitch out loud, I knew it excited me more than any of my others. Luckily, my groupmates (Ashley and Sydney) seemed thrilled about the idea and it’s reflexive, intergenerational nature, too. Their enthusiasm had me almost convinced, but I thought I should still go through my other pitches, in case something else caught their eye. Sure enough, when I brought up the idea of continuing to work on last semester’s essay and Ashley asked if I thought I’d had enough time to process what I’d already written, I knew I hadn’t — and that meant it wouldn’t be the right project for this class. Cookbook it is!
Interestingly, Ashley and Sydney also experienced this same pattern of “I thought I knew what I wanted to do but then I started the class and something else inspired me.” I wonder if there’s something about just being in the capstone environment that sparks new ideas, or makes our old ones seem more vibrant. I loved seeing how excited all three of us got about our pitches, and how we were able to encourage each other to chase down the ideas that we felt most passionate about. Maybe I’m naive to hope all workshops in this class make me as happy as this one did, but wow — we’re off to a good start.