In Which the Man From Elsewhere ascends at last.
At the end of the spring semester of my frehman year, I was selected to become the Residential Student Association’s Director of Sustainability, a leadership position that wanted desperately but did not feel I deserved. Little did I know when selected what adventures that would entail. Along with four other sophomores – our down-to-earth, Frisbee-loving president Lucas Henken, the cunning and slightly conniving vice president/programmer Kaitlyn Vallance, the sassy Secretary Kaitlin White and lovable treasurer Scott Greenfield – and beneath the advisement of our glorious matriarch Assistant Director of Residential Life Jenni Chadick, we began the arduous task of assembling the Residential Hall Associations for each of the school’s residential halls.
There were barbeques is which I spilled hot dog remnants all over myself! There were endless numbers of meetings to plan for other meetings! There was the glory/suffering of Casino Night, for which I was entertainment chair, meaning that I contacted and arranged the night’s musical festivities, which included a school jazz combo, the student band Young Ones, and the school’s three a capella groups What She Said, Garden Level and Underground Sound. There was laughter! There were tears! But most of all, there was PACURH.
What is PACURH, you ask?
The Pacific Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls is a ResLife conference held in the Pacific Northwest every fall, to bring together ResLife members from across the Northwest so as to share ideas, present programs and get NO SLEEP EVER. It is a division of the National Association of Residence Halls (NACURH), which holds a national ResLife conference every year in the summer, and this year, it was superhero themed. After weeks of preparation, wild essay writing, personality tests and the selection of our superhero names (mine being “The Man From Elsewhere”), I, the other members of RSA Exec Board, Jenni, and three other ResLife members drove through the dreary landscape of Eastern Washington, where on the beautiful and autumnally chilled campus of Gonzaga University, the rambunctious and sleep-deprived conference awaited.
I learned a great many things at that conference. At a wonderful program entitled “Forming the Avengers”, I learned that the superhero that I am most like is Spiderman, due to my sensitivity and emotional intelligence, very closely followed by Iron Man because of my assertiveness and optimism. I learned that leadership should be defined by actions that actively better the lives of others, rather than by unattainable ideals of order and hierarchy, from a beautiful TedxTalk that can be found here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVCBrkrFrBE). I learned that I know an insufficient number of Puget Sound cheers, and that dancing in a group of people that all look as stupid as you can be one of the most liberating feelings of your life. I learned that Pacific Lutheran University’s sustainability programs are fantastic and excellently organized. I learned the conference clap, and the PACURH stomp, and how to haggle for another school’s swag. But what I cherish most of the things that I learned was, while sitting for the fourth hour in the van with all the delegates on the way home, how to harmonize with fellow delegate and all around beautiful individual Timothy Pogar on Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball”. I truly can think of few better moments in my life than when, as the last line of the song came to a close, Tim and I turned to one another and sang in mournful and beautiful harmony, “You wre-e-eck meeeeeee…”, to the delight of Kaitlyn Vallance and the chagrin of Lucas Henken.
I had never before truly had to go on an adventure with a small group like this. I had never before had my notions of what being a “leader” – something I had never felt I was before – challenged. Yet returning from this trip, I felt for the first time in my life that I was now qualified, if only in the vaguest, most idealistic sense, to be called a leader. Strange how a few talks on heroism, three days spent in the frustrating and glorious company of my fellow Puget Sound delegates, and the act of calling myself “The Man From Elsewhere” could make me feel so powerful.
Also, if you see any of the people mentioned in this blog, don’t tell them about any of these descriptions of them.