One in Two Thousand: Sam Park ’17

Sam Park ’17 made his presence known from the very first day in our  first-year entry. While we all mingled quietly during first days, Park injected some much-needed energy wtih funny stories and unprompted dancing. He does everything loudly and with unbridled enthusiasm. I sat down with Sam, and he filled me in on the geeky antics he has been up to.

Sam Park '17. Photo Courtesy/ Matt Borin
Sam Park ’17.
Photo Courtesy/ Matt Borin

Let’s talk about your roots in the Deep South. What kind of neighborhood did you grow up in?

Next to me there were a lot of trees, and on the other side there was a bunch of cows. So my neighborhood didn’t really exist.

Are there any colorful local traditions in your area?

Well, for New Year’s Eve we have the opossum drop. It’s a wonderful tradition, like how New York has its fancy ball drop with celebrities in Times Square. So the good old South has an opossum drop where they drop a live opossum in a cage slowly down from a tree in true redneck fashion because I live 10 minutes from Alabama. It’s probably cruel, probably inhumane, which is why I’ve never gone to one. But I know they exist because my friends go. Apparently they saw the Honey Boo Boo child there one year.

How many people went to your high school?

A solid nine. Well, nine in my grade, there were 60 in the high school.

How did you like it?

I wished I could have seen more people, which is why I like it at Williams. I know people complain that Williams is small, but to me 2000 is plenty. I am one of the few people who come here and say, “Wow. Look how many people are here at Williams.” The fact that I see people every day I don’t recognize is a nice change. I don’t know if I could handle it if I went to a state school with like 40,000 or 50,000 people. I would probably crack under pressure. So Williams is perfect for me.

I know you’re involved with Williams after Dark. What is that exactly?

It’s a program under [the Office of Student Life] where we put on alternative events on Friday nights for students who don’t want to go to a party or something. They’re always substance-free events.

Relatively sweat-free, too?

Relatively. Actually … well, there are some events, such as nerf war, which [we did last Friday]. We just take over the entire second floor of Paresky and it turns into a giant nerf battleground. Other times we do food and crafts events. We try to diversify, do something new every week.  And to be honest, it’s not really an alternative to partying. Because most of these events are from 8 [p.m.] to 10 [p.m]. I know lots of people come to Williams after Dark and then go partying. So really it’s more of a replacement for pregaming. Because maybe some people do want to go to a dance party at 11:30 [p.m.] without pregaming first.

But they don’t want to do homework from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.?

Exactly. So a lot of people come to Williams after Dark, shoot each other with nerf guns, eat some sushi or make posters and then they have fun later on. We just hope you come and want to give people an option – mostly targeting students who don’t have anything to do on a Friday night.

When did you get involved in that?

There was a job open the beginning of my sophomore year. In my opinion, it’s probably the best job on campus. I would do this if this was a club, for free. But this is a job, so I’m getting paid to do what I love. To go to Walmart or Stop and Shop and set up a fun event. Hosting events is a lot of fun … I like to consider myself the kingpin of fun, nerdy stuff on campus.

Speaking of fun nerdy stuff, can you tell me what WARP stands for?

Oh, WARP is like my child. It stands for Williams Association of Role Players. That doesn’t really matter any more because WARP started as a group that did roleplaying – Dungeons and Dragons and things like that. You know, stuff where you roll multi-sided die – pretty much the nerdiest thing you can do. Then we started playing a lot of board games and other things. So now it’s anything involving gaming. We hold videogame tournaments … We go on a trip to PAX East, a giant nerd festival … This year we picked up so many more people, which is what I’m really glad about. We have like 30 people coming on average.

Have you considered changing the name of WARP now that you guys do so many other things?

The board talked about that this year, but the big thing is that’s what everyone knows us by. WARP does nerdy stuff. They’re the ones who do big events on campus like KAOS, Killing as an Organized Sport.

You may have to explain that one for the readers at home.

Alright, well it’s essentially a game of assassin where everyone gets a nerf gun and a target. There’s a website that tells you your target, then you have to go kill him with your nerf gun to get a new target. And you just keep going until there’s one person left standing. And it’s a really intense game because it happens during the middle of Winter Study and everyone becomes extra paranoid for the five days we play for. The other major event we used to do and are trying to bring back this year is Humans versus Zombies. That’ll probably happen late October. Everyone will be a survivor except one zombie who wears a bandana and tries to attack people. Survivors are safe indoors, but outdoors they have to shoot the zombies with their nerf guns and try to run away. So if you’re walking to class or walking to lunch, it’s going to be crazy.

So if you really want to win you won’t go to class?

Technically the way to win is to stay indoors and to never leave. However, I think your grade would suffer, and I have no liability for that. The game is sort of intended for you to have to go out. But you better go to class early. The last time this game was run, at 9:50 [a.m.], zombies would be all over the entryways. Right when class is over you can see zombies just waiting outside the door of Eco Café or wherever, and the best part is people just get stuck in there. You try to go to the other exit but there’s a zombie there, too. Then there’s a giant nerf gun fight as they try to run.

I get the sense that a lot of the things you do involve nerf guns.

I like nerf guns. Nerf guns, nerd guns. They’re pretty pivotal to role playing stuff. 

What else are you involved in on campus?

I’m on the board of Asian Dance Troupe. We do dance to essentially K pop music. We dance to, like, 90 percent K pop.

Is that the most popular Asian music?

It is. K pop is everywhere, because it’s so good. We just have fun with it; we’re not the most serious dance group. It’s a non-audition group. We just try to copy the moves and costumes from music videos because a lot of them have really good dancers. It looks good when we do it, the songs are great and it’s a very open structure – you just sign up for whatever dance you want to do.

What’s the thing you do with your hands called?

Oh, tutting. That’s a fun modern dance thing where you use your hands to make intricate little shapes. The focus is on making a lot of right angles, making cool shapes at fast speeds. That’s the key thing. It’s not just forming your arms into a square, it’s moving them around, making them into triangles. It’s kind of like the Egyptian King Tut hands. That’s one of my favorite ways to dance. Also, I can do that anywhere, so if I’m bored in class you might just see my hands forming into little squares and stuff. When you do it on stage with a fast-moving routine it looks really good. Dance is a fun hobby and a good stress reliever on weekends. It’s something I like to do and it’s part of me.

Do you ever take your moves from Asian Dance Troupe to First Fridays or something like that?

I do not. I wish I could, but I feel like First Fridays is less about dancing and more about making out on the dance floor. But I’m just a huge nerd. And I’m proud of it. I’m here to serve the nerd population of Williams.

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