Yuqing (Eva) Cao
Comparative Literature & German Studies
What are the most valuable skills you gained from your Arts & Sciences education?
1. The ability to be constantly open and ready to learn from others. Sometimes sharing our poems, short stories, thesis ideas or just randomly talking about what we have read, painted, watched or thought about recently with my very talented classmates and friends can be more enlightening than the seminar discussions.
2. Finding the equilibrium of “natality” and “maintenance.” In other words, trying to balance the urge of constantly trying to challenge and change myself versus just guarding, maintaining and having faith in all the thoughts and values that I already have.
3. Finding the balance between resilience and the freedom of just slowing down and enjoying the moment from time to time.
What is your main extracurricular activity and why is it important to you?
Marginalia Poetry Club, especially the reading night at Johnson Museum. The theme is on migration, immigration and borders. It is one of the moments of artistic activism when we see the powerful “code switching” effects of art. Painting is another important part of my extracurricular activities. I paint on my own, or collaborate with my friends. I’ve really enjoyed Professor Stan Taft’s summer art studio in Rome as well. One of my wishes, to finish a mural in Ithaca before my graduation, has been temporarily postponed due to the virus.
What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of, either inside the classroom or otherwise?
Finishing my senior thesis on art manifestos. The 50-page journey is a result of the accumulated reading, researching, theorizing and writing skills I’ve gained in the past four years. I’m hoping that the readers will find it interesting too, since regardless of which era, art manifestos are always relevant with their revolutionary potentials. I also feel proud whenever I can make another person feel better or more loved. Sometimes that means a long talk or a long letter, sometimes a drawing or a poem, at other times a warm meal or dessert that I’ve cooked or baked.
If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?
Mingle with people from all backgrounds. Cornell can be hard especially during prelim seasons, so be kind to yourself and others. A little wave, smile and greeting to another fellow human being also walking across the Arts Quad can potentially lighten up his or her day. Opening up and talking with sincerity and even vulnerability can be better than pretending to be cool and tough. Resonate with others. Hang in there.
Where do you dream to be in ten years?
My dream is to roam around, live fully and create, lead a Roberto Bolaño type of lifestyle. The sense of finding a "home" has always been elusive for me. I love Berlin, Kamakura, Morocco and Mexico City, so I might lead a "bare life" kind of lifestyle in these cities.