Making Personal Connections
Upon leaving high school, one thing that the older people in my life continued to tell me was to make as many connections as possible when I got to college. Introduce yourself to the professor the first day so she can write you a letter of recommendation down the road. Make friends in your classes so they can help you when you are struggling with classes. Get to know the people in your major so when you are looking for a job, you know where to go.
Those are all smart things to do for your success, but something that I wasn’t told to do that I think is just as important is to go and make connections just for the heck of it.
In my freshmen athlete class (“CHAMP”—every freshmen athlete is required to take it), we have an assignment to go to at least three different perspective events and write an essay on each of them. The reason for this is so we can be more well-rounded athletes and not just have our head in the game.
So one day after class, I had some free time to kill and I heard about a “Chat n’ Chew” event at a cultural house on campus. I wasn’t sure what it was, since I have never been to one before, but I needed to go to a perspective event, so I made my way over. It ended up being a discussion called “Healing the Effects of Internalized Genocide by Using the Tools of Re-Evaluation Co-Counseling,” By Kate Insolia (Lakota), Founder of The Urbana Dance Company. The topic was about Native Americans, though it was held at La Casa Cultural Latina and they served Asian food, but that was fine by me.
By the end of the hour, I had learned about the most recent difficulties in the Native American culture, gotten a new perspective on the way people behave, and cried in the arms of a complete stranger (we cried to each other about our freshmen struggles, which are very real). I left the event feeling like a weight has been lifted off of me. The whole experience was so different and enlightening to me, maybe because of the presentation itself or the opportunity to leave my world of sports for a moment. I was also able to make a new friend, who I otherwise would have never met.
Moral of the story: Go out and do something that you normally wouldn’t do. You never know who you’ll meet, what you’ll learn, or how it will impact your life. There are so many things to choose from on campus every day, it won’t be hard to find!