The eldest Hampshire College llama has seen quite a bit in his years on campus. Recently, he suggested that an interview might be a good way to explain some of the ins and outs of the Hampshire experience to new students. We took him up on the proposal.
Q: So…you're a talking llama?
A: That's true. We hang out with the sheep at the Farm Center for the most part; they're pretty easy to get along with. Same thing with the kids who work here, a nice bunch. But believe me, that's the only comparison you'll ever hear made between Hampshire students and sheep!
I always hear students talking about sustainable agriculture and doing things to help the environment, inventing biofuels, that sort of thing. They give me food, too. No complaints.
Q: Is it mostly students interested in agriculture or environmental studies that you see?
A: Actually, no. I mean, Hampshire's an open place, you know that, just about everyone makes a trip down here to the farm some time or other. I see theater students out in the fields practicing their lines for a show, designers and inventors from the Lemelson Center testing their homemade wheat threshers. Never know when someone's gonna trek out a telescope and stare at the stars, it gets nice and dark out here at night. I've seen Venus a couple times in the scope.
A: Heck yeah, it takes some trying to get my nose out of the way, but that's good for a few laughs, right? I've been in plenty of pictures, too, and a couple of movies on top of that. I bet I'm one of the most famous faces in the Liebling Center for Film, Photography, and Video. And now that they've added wall space with the new addition, they've got even more room for me. I don't like to brag, but I do have a pretty great smile, don't I?
Q: It's unique.
A: Is that a compliment? I'll take it as one. One student actually turned me into a furry dragon in her computer animation class. That's the fun part about new students arriving every year; you never know just what they're going to do.
Q: What with students always coming and going, do you ever wish you could do any traveling yourself?
A: I don't know, it's pretty entertaining right here. And the students are always heading off on trips. The Global Education Office is great about helping them out. When they get back on campus they'll stop by and tell me about their adventures. With the Mellon Foundation grant Hampshire is using to promote the study of languages, those adventures just get more and more interesting. A few have been to Peru, which is where my family is from. Sounds like the mountains there are a little bigger than the hills surrounding the college.
Q: Anything particularly memorable that they've told you?
A: Oh, funny story. I have a student friend who made the trip to Dharamsala, India, which is where the Dalai Lama lives. They brought a picture of me there, and left it at one of the monasteries as a present. You know, the whole play on words thing, llama, lama? Anyhow, they brought back a photo of the Dalai Lama. He's got a nice smile, too. Did you know the Five College Tibetan Studies Program started at Hampshire? And that Hampshire co-hosted a visit by the Dalai Lama a couple of years back? People who heard him speak still talk about his wisdom and compassion. I try to adopt a similar peaceful philosophy.
Q: Just don't mess with your food, though.
A: Yeah. Well, yeah, you can't be disinterested in everything. But aside from that I'm an easygoing guy.
Q: Okay then. Hey, thanks for taking the time to talk.
A: No problem. Stop by whenever. I'll be here.