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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Across the world to East Street

Dhruv+Bakshi+17+and+Sam+Burt+17+pose+together+outside+the+Spencer+Grill.
Dhruv Bakshi ’17 and Sam Burt ’17 pose together outside the Spencer Grill.

By Philip Kiely

kielyphi@grinnell.edu

Dhruv Bakshi ’17, who hails from Jakarta, Indonesia, came over 9,700 miles to get to Grinnell. Sam Burt ’17 traveled two blocks. Of everyone with publicly listed home addresses on the campus database, Burt came the shortest distance to what Google Maps defines as the center of campus and Bakshi came the furthest. From almost 10,000 miles apart, the two ended up living across the street from each other on East Street this year.

Burt always knew that he wanted to come to Grinnell.

“In a lot of ways, I’ve always known that I would come here. My first conscious recollection of this is in second grade [when] my best friend moved away and I wrote him a letter that was just ‘when it’s time to come to college, go to Grinnell College,’ … We did not reunite, but that was my first idea of what going to college meant,” Burt said.

Bakshi took a while longer to hone in on the college.

“I’m originally from Mumbai, India, which is a huge city and back home English is my first language and so everybody went to the same system in the eleventh, twelfth, which was IB … so there was no thought into where I would go to study, it was more like ‘I am going to go to the US and study,’ and after I figured that out I was like ‘where do I want to go in the US.’ I had always lived in big cities … so I narrowed my focus to small liberal arts colleges in almost the middle of nowhere,” Bakshi said.

Dhruv Bakshi ’17 and Sam Burt ’17 pose together outside the Spencer Grill.

After he came to Grinnell, his family moved to Jakarta, positioning him almost exactly across the globe from Grinnell.

“Now I do live in Jakarta. I came to college when I was in Mumbai, but a year and a half in my family shifted to Jakarta, Indonesia. I guess I call that home now. In my heart, home will always be Mumbai, India, but when I go home, I go to Jakarta, Indonesia,” Bakshi said.

Burt goes home regularly by foot. When Bakshi returns home, which he does every winter and summer break, he takes a series of flights across either the Atlantic or Pacific.

“I usually take between three and four flights … usually it is about 36 hours,” Bakshi said.

The two are both very connected to Grinnell, but in different ways.

“My best friends are still my best friends here, because they all went here, so that’s a big part. The kinds of places that I liked to go are still the kinds of places that I like to go,” Burt said.

“After my family moved to Jakarta my identity with Grinnell has become stronger. At least I can call this place home, at least I’m here for most of the year. When my family was in Mumbai I was always like ‘Mumbai, Mumbai, Mumbai.’ Now I feel like [Grinnell] is the closest place I have to home. I go back to Jakarta and it’s far, my family is there but I don’t feel to connected to the city,” Bakshi said.

After graduation, Burt plans to stay in the area.

“I’m planning on spending a bit time here just to save up some money before I move anywhere just because living is so cheap here. There are places in Iowa City and Des Moines that I’m looking at. I have some friends in Colorado, that’s a really good place … the kinds of jobs that are available there more match my interests,” Burt said.

Bakshi will return to Indonesia and ultimately to Mumbai.

“I really miss India, I love India. I do eventually plan on going back there, but not immediately. Immediately, I’m going to spend this summer traveling the US, because I don’t know when I’ll be back next. I plan to go back to Indonesia, but not Jakarta, because Indonesia is a really beautiful country,” Bakshi said.

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