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Fisk Hall turns strangers into forever friends

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Ashley Dong rests on a couch in Fisk Hall while writing a story. Photo by Karina Aronson

Addi Hinesman of Ann Arbor, Michigan, made her first cherub friendships in an unmoving, snaking line to set up computers.

“I got to my dorm, I saw my roommate go inside, and I ran the other way,” Hinesman said. “But then in the computer line, I met my roommate, Christina, and we got along well. The computer line really helped me make some friends.”

When cherubs signed up, they were promised the best summer of their lives. But Mariam Ahmed, a cherub from Qatar, had her doubts.

“I just thought, ‘Oh my god, how are these people going to become lifelong friends?’” Ahmed said. “But in the second week, we had a lot of work, and we got closer because we had to ask for help.”

Three weeks into the program, Annika Singh of Freemont, California, watched the sunset surrounded by friends.

“We all went to the Lakefill and sat on the rocks and just blasted music for an hour and a half straight, took photos and lived our teenage coming-of-age movie moment,” Singh said. “Just sitting there and reflecting on everything that’s happened in the last three weeks was very calming in a certain way.”

When guest speaker Tyler Pager mentioned he was in a fellow cherub’s wedding, Singh smiled. She said she knew her relationships would be just as strong.

“I think they will definitely be some of my very good friends for the rest of my life,” Singh said. “Who knows? Maybe we’ll end up rooming together in college.”

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