Chiara Perotti Correa '18

Year of Graduation: 
A smiling student outside

Who would've thought a young girl from coastal Ecuador would be living in a town, a state, she's never heard of?

I have a spot. It’s on the third floor of our library, overlooking the Academy Building. Second window to the right, sitting in the wooden rectangle window, knees to my chest, trying to mentally erase the cables to watch the mesmerizing purple sky on a spring day. That is the first place you will find me in May at my fifth reunion.

My father still has the official picture of my first day at International Student Orientation on his nightstand. Light blue button-down and shorts, holding back my tears because I was both excited and scared. Who would’ve thought a young girl from coastal Ecuador would be living in a town, a state, she’s never heard of?

I cherish that photo because I don’t have many of myself during my time at Exeter. Instead, I had the privilege of experiencing every single part of it through my camera lens. Pep rallies, games, perfor-mances, teas, playing Spikeball on a sunny day — I captured it all. Then the late nights in The Exonian office deciding which pictures would go best with a story. For me, it always came down to emotion, and in a campus with hundreds of teenagers, my protagonists never disappointed.  

I chose to pick up a camera during my first term at Exeter because I wanted to meet people. I wanted a reason to introduce myself and hear people’s stories. And this didn’t mean only students, but also faculty and staff who made my experience one I will never forget. The staff at Grill always asked how my day was as I asked them to warm up a chocolate chip cookie. My piano teacher, Ms. Lee, to whom I will forever be indebted for listening to me while I had a rough day at school. Mr. Reichlin, who encouraged me to pursue my passion for languages and allowed me to do a 999 with him! These are the people I’m most excited to see when I get back to campus in the spring for reunion.

My senior year, I often heard alumni who came to campus say that Exeter connections are connections for life. At first, I wasn’t exactly sure how that would happen for me because I was a foreigner who was going to a school where not a lot of Exonians had gone. Five years later, I’ve met up with more than a third of my class and many alumni from other classes in three continents. Social media has given us an opportunity to stay up to date with one another, especially during the pandemic. I’m grateful that I met Lawrence Young ’96 during my first year living in D.C. as he, alongside other alumni, hosted a “talking circle” via Zoom while we were on full lockdown. It is opportunities like these that remind me how special Exeter is.

This May, I hope to see many of my classmates and teachers, take a bunch of pictures, and sit in the library once again. For those who have reunions, I hope you can all join me in going back to each of your own special places on our beloved campus. 

Exeter, see you soon!


This story was originally published in the Spring 2023 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.