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James J. Bowie, Jr.

Where do you live on campus? Why do you like it?

For my freshman year I am living in Bundy Hall. The experience living here has been an absolute treat! The community is very engaged with itself and that makes it easy to interact with everyone here. From the basement to the third floor I have found myself making friends on every floor, which allows me to really see all the groups represented in this hall. I think that's been my favorite part about Bundy.

Why do you like Earlham?

From the second I applied I told myself "If I get accepted to here, this is going to be my place" Even just from the feel of the website, I could tell that Earlham was going to be everything I needed. A small tight-knit community that cares about the issues going on in our world, big and small. My high school was the same way, but Earlham is like the improved version of my high school. I don't feel like I am constrained to one social group, which is a big part. But probably my favorite part is the international perspective I gain from coming here. I've studied Chinese for three years now, and one of my best friends here is Chinese, from Daqing, China! To me I think it's amazing that so many students from all over the globe find their way to Earlham, and to add to that, we're all not just trying to gain a better education but also gain a better understanding on how our societies interact. When I had got here I knew I would come here from the second I got on the plane back home. When I got here I had a fantastic weekend, and then when I had to return to Portland, I felt like I was leaving home. I remember describing it to my friends saying "Guys, I saw what my future is, I was living it! And then it got torn away because it was only a weekend event!" I guess that's what makes Earlham so special, is that in such a short amount of time, Earlham became home and is right now what I consider to be my home.

What are your plans for winter/summer break?

For my summer I plan to stay in Richmond and continue my work with the Bonner Scholars at nearby Cope Environmental Center. While doing this I hope to self-teach myself Chinese and practice with a couple friends who are also staying here during break. As for next winter break, I am not sure if I'll return home. I feel like college is the best time in your life to find out who you are. Myself at Earlham is the most true iteration of myself I have ever seen, and then going back to Portland, I had felt like I had outgrown the place, so a little time away is needed. I'm excited to spend the summer here and see what kind of changes I can keep making at Cope.

What are your plans post-Earlham?

Post-Earlham..... I want to do so many things. My wildest dream is to work for the UN one day and using my knowledge of Chinese language to pursue some form of work overseas. And then I have a problem where I am so fixated with the issues that are plaguing America right now. I'm a first generation college student, my father was a single parent and made less than $12,000 a year, so I was raised on welfare. That in itself brings a lot of challenges to growing up and balancing your education with your home life, so I want to find some way to help children who are forced to grow up in tough environments. Honestly it's a little bit of a struggle because I'm so confused on how I want to go about making change, but I know at the least I will go to Graduate School after Earlham to pursue a law degree.

Tell us about an off-campus program or internship you did and what was special about it.

For my first mid-semester break I chose to spend it in Goshen, Indiana. Never been there, I've never even heard of it. I was working with a junior Bonner Scholar who was leading the trip with about 12 other students. We were working with a group called La Casa Inc. This trip was probably the best decision I made during my first semester. I'm no stranger to community service, I'm a Bonner (So.... a lot of service happens) and this trip was just amazing. We were renovating houses with La Casa, who rents these houses for very cheap prices to families in need in the Goshen area. The only time I had done work on a house before that was a trip a few years back working with Friends of Rockaway in NYC. So I guess the biggest difference about these trips was the one in NYC was a lot more about the area in general, and with La Casa, it felt as if you learned of all the issues that the city faces, we worked with other volunteers who take leadership roles in rebuilding these houses. It was tough, tearing carpet, removing tiled floors, there were so many times where I just wanted to take a break. But I think that's the thing with all community service, is that in those times where you just want one more break, you remember why you're doing all this work in the first place. Being with an Earlham group of people who were there just for the sake of helping is what kept me going, because seeing everyone else so tired was motivating, I had to work just as hard as my peers to ensure that the change we made in the short time we had was visible. At the end of our tenure working with La Casa, we made a visible change, and we all felt so proud. In the future, I think I may want to lead an Earlham trip up to Goshen to continue the work started last October.

James J. Bowie, Jr.

James J. Bowie, Jr. 2020

Hometown: Portland, ME

Major at Earlham: International Studies

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