The Leo Center

By Liz Scholz

(Left to right in photo): Lelde Ilzina (Latvia, International Studies, Political Science), Leonor Añó (San Juan, Argentina, Biology), and Global Citizen Mishal Khan (Islamabad, Pakistan, International Studies, Political Science) have big plans for next semester and beyond that include New York … and marriage?

TMW: How did you guys meet and decide to live together?

Leonor Añó: It’s just us [Leo and Lelde], this is her [Mishal’s] external homeland.

Lelde Ilzina: That’s why we have an extra bed.
LA: Well, I’ve kind of been friends with both of them since freshman year. And we didn’t live together freshman year or sophomore year. But then we were trying to figure out what we were going to do, and it kind of happened that we knew we were going to live together. And then we wanted to live in GDD. I wanted three other roommates so we could have a bigger room. So I talked to her [Mishal] and she was also looking for a roommate.

LI: I thought she was so intimidating at first.

Mishal Khan: Me? Intimidating?
LI: I just had a couple classes with her, that’s all. But I knew, I thought I wanted to live with her.

LA: You’re so intimidating Mishal.

MK: Hey, I guess I am.

LA: You are. But anyway, we kind of ended up coming together, and they all didn’t know each other. They were kind of all my friends.
MK: But it worked out really well. And then Lelde and I went to Maastricht, so we kind of all became-
LA: Even closer. I stayed here. But I don’t regret it. I think it’s been a good semester.

LI: Without us? Hell yeah.

LA: No! That’s not what I mean! No, you decided to leave me and go to Maastricht.

MK: Yes we specifically decided to leave Leonor.

LI: That’s actually what I wrote in my application. I was like, “I’d really like to get away from her.” Please!
MK: Actually Leonor was like the tenth member of our group.

LI: Yeah, I talked about her all the time!

TMW: What do you guys like to do together?

MK: Study.

LA: No, we never study together!
LI: We try. When we used to live together, Leo and I would just leave Mishal at the couch because she’d be working. And then we’d come out in the morning, and she’d be there still.

LA: You still do that, when you come over.

MK: No, I’ve actually fixed my routine. I go to sleep at 11:30 and wake up at 7.

LA: We’ve changed her. For the worse.

LI: We like to.

MK: Eat.

LI: We sometimes go dancing.
MK: Yeah we go out quite a bit. Well, as much as a Macalester group of people go out.

LA: I just think it’s kind of hard because I feel that we are together so much that there’s not a specific thing that we do. It’s just kind of, Mishal comes over.

LI: We giggle a lot. It’s all we do.

MK: Because I don’t really come over when I really need to study.

LA: She just pretends and brings her books over but then we end up just talking.

LI: We tease Mishal quite a bit.

LA: So Mishal has this thing, she doesn’t like to be called “cute.” She prefers sophisticated.

MK: I’m still really flattered by the intimidated comment.

LA: Of course that was before she knew you.
MK: Yeah now I’ve got no respect.

LA: It’s not about respect, it’s about cuteness.

LI: Sophistication is not a synonym of cute.

MK: Yeah, cute is just not my favorite word. It’s okay guys, I forgive you.

TMW: What are your plans for next year?

MK: Well, we’re moving to New York.

LA: Do you want to know our dream? We’re moving to New York, we’re renting an apartment together.

LI: In Manhattan most likely.

MK: Oh, by the way, before that, we need to marry Americans.

LI: We have the OBT, that doesn’t let us stay here because we’re international students. So forget about finding a job, marrying an American first.

LA: And I’m going to be in grad school and they’ll have a bed for me there so I can come and stay over. That’s the ideal.

MK: Yes the reality is however. I’m probably going to go back home.

LI: You can’t do that to me.

LA: Or me.

MK: All right. Well if you want to find me a job.

LA: I can help.

MK: You only have two classes next semester. You should do my job search for me.

LI: Mishal wants to take six.

MK: I can’t choose! It’s so hard, it’s your last semester here, I’m never going to have the chance to learn about development politics ever again.

LI: Yes you will! If you go to grad school..

LA: She’s such a nerd.

MK: No I’m not!

TMW: What are you looking forward to next semester?

MK: Graduating.

LA: No!
LI: What?
LA: Speak for yourself!
MK: Okay! Spring break! We’re going to New York.

LI: They’re going to be looking for jobs and I’m just going to go shopping.

MK: Well we’re not going to be looking for jobs at night.

LA: Okay, spring break. We can agree on that.

MK: I guess the final semester is pretty nice for seniors usually, right?
LA: And very depressing and stressful.

MK: No, but it’s kind of. . everyone starts getting all, “Ohh I love Macalester so much.”

LA: Yeah I’m very comfortable here. I was thinking about it, and moving on is like making a whole new group of friends, living with someone unless you’re earning enough that you can rent an apartment on your own.

LI: Or you get married.

MK: Senior week!
LI: Oh! Founder’s Day!
LA: Our last Founder’s day! Now all of us can be on the grown-ups’ side. She [Mishal] just turned 21 this summer. We are also among the older of our class.

LI: That’s also a sore point.

LA: She’s 23 and I’m 22. … Senior Week-I’m really excited. We had that survey thing. I said that we should have a sleepover at the MARC.
LI: So did I!
LA: The Leo Center!
LI: That was decided by her last semester, like, “Okay by the way, it’s not the Leonard Center, call it Leo.”
LA: And do you know how many times I’ve said my name and the person is like, “How do you say it?” The thing is, I say it and they spell it Leonard. And I’m like, “I thought that was a guy’s name.” So then I figured I had the right to call it the Leo Center. I’ve been trying to make people do it.

LI: So have I.

LA: People think I’m pretty lame.

LI: I’m doing it on your behalf.

MK: Watch me distribute the message. They’re all going to call it the Leo Center officially.

LA: Yeah, you’ve got my back!
LI: Oh, one more thing that Mishal absolutely loves-
MK: Jay Sean! Oh my god. He’s a U.K .singer, but he’s Indian descent. He is number one in the U.S. right now and he signed a contract with Li’l Wayne. You don’t understand, this is the first person of like south Asian descent to be number one in the U.S. That’s a huge deal! So anyway, do not download his music illegally. Actually buy it on iTunes. Which I do for all my music. But in particular, Jay Sean.
LI: She’s being such a good diplomat!
MK: So now they love him too.

LA: We love him too? Do we?
LI: We’ll forcefully listen to some of his music when she comes over.

MK: And when he comes on in a club, you get happy! You know we do.

LI: It’s because we think of you.

LA: Since he’s your future husband.

MK: Oh, god willing! You’ve probably had a crush on, I don’t know, the Backstreet Boys when you were young, I never went through that phase. Mine is happening a little later in life, that’s all.

LA: Oh, something else we do together: We go and listen to the Scotch Tape concerts. She’s [Lelde] in Scotch Tape and I’m their No. 1 fan. I’m their groupie!
MK: No, when songs come on she knows not only the lyrics or the music, she knows the parts. And I mean, bass and tenor, soprano, and alto. Sometimes she switches between them. Sometimes they’ll burst out into this well-synchronized harmony. And I’m just like, “Woah, have you guys been practicing?” Apparently it’s just natural.

LA: Yeah
, well, we all like to sing, so we share that.

MK: Lelde was just recently in a Ben Folds concert. She got chosen to be a backup singer at a Ben Folds concert.

LI: It was pretty neat. I did feel like I should quit school and go and do that professionally because it was so much cooler than anything I’d ever done here. But I don’t feel like I’m a good enough singer to do that.

LA, MK: [Groans]

TMW: What is one thing that you will miss most about Macalester?

MK: Dunn Brothers.

LA: Mishal! This is a profound question!
MK: I’m kidding!!
LA: She’s a coffee-holic, so I’m not surprised. She [Lelde] is too. But that’s not what you’ll miss the most.

MK: I’m just kidding!
LA: I think, just the closeness. The close community. The safe bubble. I think I will miss a lot. Just walking through Café Mac, just knowing people, and being able to talk. Friends. And I feel that we take it for granted many times. And I’m looking into grad schools, and they’re all big schools, and I think it will be really hard to connect. Like, here it just kind of happens. No matter how awkward people might be, or how they say how Mac students are awkward.

LI: Well, we are. I would miss this. The unwinding. After you’re like, “Oh my god, I’m going to fall apart.” And you come into the room and there’s these two chicas who are sitting there. being like, “You’ll be fine.”

LA: Chicas! I like your Spanish! See, I taught her well.

MK: I don’t know, I think I’m going to miss, just the ability to have conversations that mean something to you. Because as soon as you leave Macalester, because we studied abroad, you really realize just how much you’re going to miss that.
LI: Salad bar! Salad bar! No, really?
MK: Okay, if you’re saying salad bar, I can say Dunn Brothers.

LA: That’s so sad. You can make your own salad, you’ll be fine.

LI: But you can’t have those nicely cut tomatoes, and. . the croutons!