Senior video closes one chapter, and opens another

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Syl Kacapyr

It is the season of goodbyes, and with every final exam handed in and last box packed, there is a student bidding farewell to Cornell in his or her own unique way.

Alex Silver and Jon Tai made a video.

Specifically, they made a five-minute video about Cornell. As they experienced it -- and really, as everyone experiences it.

For Silver, an art history major and photographer, the idea was not really new. He made a similar video about London last year, as a goodbye after a visit to that city. And this video started as a project for a psychology class, although he'd been thinking about it even before the assignment.

"To me, this was the only way I would get a sense of closure -- the way I could say goodbye to Cornell in a meaningful way," Silver said.

Silver shot the time-lapse footage last fall and this spring. Tai, a psychology major, wrote the accompanying poetic script.

Needless to say, the project got an A+. Then Silver posted the video on his Facebook page. And that's when things got a little crazy.

The video had 50,000 views in a day. Alumni left comments and sent e-mails. "It's been really touching, the outpouring of people -- alumni from the 2000s going back to 1967, saying they enjoyed it," he said. "One person said, 'I didn't even go to Cornell -- I went to NYU -- and it gave me goosebumps.' It's been baffling, and so heartwarming."

Silver and Tai will share the video at the upcoming board of trustees' meeting. They've gotten freelance job offers. "That's really good to hear, as a graduating senior who only has tentative plans for next year," Silver confessed. (He's considering a temporary position at the International Monetary Fund, where he interned last summer ... but if a kind alum were to offer a permanent position, he might possibly be persuaded to consider it.)

And all the attention aside, the video served its purpose.

"Jon and I wanted to make something that was on the line between a personal goodbye for us, and also universal," Silver said. "It's really been our way of coming to terms with the end of one chapter of our lives, and the beginning of another."


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