After experiencing my first Homecoming Week at the University of Miami, my idea of what homecoming is and what it represents has undergone some revision. When I initially thought of Homecoming Week all I could think of was the more prominent things: the football game, the fireworks and the boat burning ceremony. The truth is that there is so much more to homecoming than these traditions.
Homecoming is, of course, a celebration. Originally, the university’s alumni were meant to be the focus of this celebration; it was a time for them to come back to campus from all corners of the nation and beyond. Now, at the end of Homecoming Week, this aspect is emphasized through alumni weekend.
To me, perhaps the most significant part of the homecoming tradition is its timelessness. The concept of everlasting spirit and pride, what some might refer to as “bleeding orange and green,” is demonstrated throughout many facets of homecoming. For example, the famous boat burning and fireworks ceremony have been celebrated for decades and will continue on as an event that illustrates the unique culture of the University of Miami. Thousands of students come together during the week to represent their school, regardless of their class or background.
However, the alumni exemplify the undying spirit better than anyone. Whether the alumni are celebrating a five, 10 or 50-year graduation milestone, or aren’t celebrating one at all, their common bond of being a Cane allows them to relate and celebrate together. After witnessing this, I walked away from homecoming with the lesson that being a Miami Hurricane is not something that ends once one graduates. On a broader scale, homecoming is a celebration of the wide-reaching influence this campus and its students, both old and new, have on their communities.
Such an influence is felt not only in South Florida, where you will find the U symbol spread far and wide, but throughout the world as well. Our students and alumni are always involved in important projects that continue to shape our understanding of global phenomena and other topics. From marine science to medicine and technology, we have made an impact and will continue to do so. During homecoming, alumni who return to the U interact with current students and pass on their experiences and knowledge they’ve gained in their time away from campus.
Aside from innovations and research, the University of Miami is constantly ameliorating the community through service. This is another important part of homecoming to me, even though service happens throughout the year. The emphasis on service proves that not only do ‘Canes care for ‘Canes, but they care about their communities as well. Most recently, a homecoming service tradition called “Hurricanes Help the Hometown” was held, where students engaged in various service activities throughout South Florida.
Although homecoming week has come to an ending, the ideas and values it stands for will stick around. Traditions will remain and grow, and perhaps new ones will emerge. Whether you’re an alumnus or a freshman, or somewhere in between, there’s one thing we can all agree on: It’s great to be a Miami Hurricane.
Benjamin Estrada is a freshman majoring in communication honors – journalism.