When Dasani Left Dwelling

“Yeah, ‘my closet,’” Tabitha chimes in. “‘Look how big my closet is!’”

Quickly it’s time to say goodbye. Tabitha stands close to her husband, Jason, a stout, bearded 42-year-old man who favors wire-rimmed glasses and flannel shirts. Their sons — ages 8 and 11 — will quickly be dwelling from college, together with a gaggle of Hershey ladies.

Tabitha holds Leo, the household’s new pet. “Look over my baby now, OK?” Chanel tells the canine.

The 2 moms hug. They’ve already mentioned Dasani’s “four-week adjustment plan.” Chanel is allowed one weekly telephone name to Dasani, at a predesignated time. There are not any visits for a month — a separation that’s designed to assist incoming college students kind new bonds, notably with their home dad and mom.

This could convey a swell of feelings: disappointment, guilt, confusion, rage. Some kids insurgent, hoping their transgressions will ship them dwelling. However the longer they will endure this separation, the extra possible they’re to satisfy the varsity’s objective of main “fulfilling and productive” lives.

The unstated message is evident. To be able to depart poverty, Dasani should additionally depart her household — a minimum of for some time.

Dasani lies awake that first evening. She has by no means slept alone. She retains reaching for Lee-Lee. “I don’t know how to sleep with nobody,” she is going to later inform me. Exterior, the sky is large and darkish, the snow virtually silver. Hershey is so quiet that any noise is jarring — the rustling of branches, the thrum of a truck.

The whole lot feels completely different, even the air. Just a few ft away, Dasani’s 13-year-old roommate is quick asleep. She, too, is a metropolis woman. However she got here from Trenton, N.J., eight years in the past, which is lengthy sufficient to learn to sleep by means of the quiet.

It’s not simply homesickness that retains Dasani awake. She is feeling the stress that Hershey represents. “I believe I can achieve my dreams in this school,” she writes in her journal. She makes little point out of her 11 housemates, for worry they may learn the diary and switch in opposition to her. Earlier, they greeted Dasani warmly at dinner, bowing their heads for grace. She ate shortly, as if the meals would possibly vanish. New college students aren’t used to second helpings or facet dishes. Typically they guard their plates, hunching over every meal, or they attempt to ration it, hoarding meals of their napkins.

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