A Wild Welcome

I was at college.

wasn’t home. 


I had set up shop in my room, ate dinner with my roommate, and kissed my parents goodbye in a matter of hours; I felt painfully out of place as Gary and Luanne welcomed us to our new home. Sitting in the LI room, it hit me. There’s no turning back. I was excited. I was tired. I was ready. I was overwhelmed.  All of a sudden, and inexplicably, a sense of pride set in. In this moment, I experienced the extremes of “mixed-emotions.”

That night, we walked to the S.A.C to see the comedians. I clung to my friend, Eliza, the entire walk there. Eliza and I are on a college group together called the College Volunteer Facilitator Corps. We work to promote student leadership through camps and workshops yearlong. Eliza and I talked about how excited we were, how nervous we were, and tried to meet new people along our hike across campus; we even tried convincing people that we were related..

Noting can compare to how thrilling it was to stand in the gymnasium where the comedians performed. I had heard that the Safari program was large, but as I stood in the sea of people that flooded the gymnasium, I could feel an aura of importance. There were participants from wall-to-wall. There were over one hundred volunteer staff members. The numbers were crazy. I was bewildered. I cannot sufficiently stress in words the empowerment I felt, solely due to me standing in a room whipping with excitement and nerves. There were easily a hundred other people in that room experiencing the same sensation I had been experiencing, and knowing that is what really got me.

After the comedians performed, we broke off into our safari groups. I was a weasel. Yup. A weasel. We met briefly outside to meet each other and then headed right home.

I walked back to Barnes hall with a girl I had met in my Weasel group. We chatted about where we were from and what we were studying. We discovered we shared a friend, and then separated to our different Halls. The streetlights and moon illuminated the campus the entire way back. It was almost a magical feeling, campus at night. There was a light bustle, but an overall mystic quietness remained; the kind of quietness that warms your heart.

The week progressed at a rapid rate, and the weasel’s melded together almost as rapidly. I became rather close with two of the guys in my group. We came from similar places of Michigan, and knew a handful of the same people. Our group handled most of the challenges thrown our way with a certain weasel-finesse. We rarely were stumped, because we took challenges head on and with pride. Particularly, the trust fall activity had pretty high attention all week. People were worried and nervous, but not a single person in the weasel group even stuttered when it was our turn to catch each other.

Hearing the term “servant leadership” brings my principal to mind. Dave Jackson preached servant leadership in our high school. He set his example be being personable, reaching out to students in order to help them find success, and made an effort to personally aid and commend each student in a building of 2,000. Furthermore, he always volunteered to pick up after the Horses in our homecoming parade. So to me, leadership is service; which is exactly why I enjoyed the service projects employed by Safari. Turning leadership into service, whether it is cleaning up trash on a part of campus, or stuffing boxes for the military, is an effective way to help the greater good. I was part of a team whose duty was to clean the disc-golf course. Not only did it feel good to be helping out around campus, but it was also a time to just casually talk with people from all different groups we worked to better our new community, we built better connections between each other.

One speaker I truly gained knowledge from was Ed Gerety. He was in the breakout sessions, and actually spoke in Powers Hall, which gave me a sense of familiarity and comfort. Ed Gerety spoke on the importance of visualization and gratitude. These are two concepts that I believe in and love learning new tactics about. He suggested that we make dream-boards, which essentially are posters, that map out every big goal and dream you’ve ever had on them through photographs and texts. He also taught us how to emphasize the importance of our goals through our wording. Instead of saying, “I want to be a successful Computer Engineer,” it is more powerful to say something along the lines of “I will be an experienced computer engineer with background knowledge from internships across the country and the globe, and finally work for Apple Inc. as a lead Software and Computer developer by the time I’m thirty.” By being detailed, I am enabled to think critically about what it is exactly that I want. And by knowing the specifics, I am compelled to take the proper steps to make it to mygoals.

Every night of Safari, I came back to Barnes Hall. In Barnes, I am surrounded by some of the state’s best leaders, who also share in my experience as a Leadership Advancement Scholar. Honestly, my favorite part of safari was getting to know my LAS cohort by talking to them all each night. I feel comfortable and safe around this group of people, and in fact, I can’t imagine my life without most of them, already!

Safari came to an end, but the feeling I felt that first day still burns: I’m still overwhelmed by this truly welcoming and friendly campus.  I still feel ready for new obstacles.  I’m still easily excited by classes, campus, friends, and everything else.  Finally, I still feel that sense of pride… but now I know where that sensation set in: it was the moment I realized I am now a Chippewa.

I’m at college.

I’m at Central.

I’m home.

A song to accompany my feelings while writing this post:

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