Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The home team won, by the way

I went to a football game Friday night with friends at the university. The stadium is near my assigned parking lot so I pass it every day, but I had never been inside. It was like going on an anthropological field trip. Cheerleaders, marching band members in bright blazers, hunky boys in football uniforms, gangs of girls on the prowl, adults clad in more fleece in the strikingly odd school colors than I might have expected to find in the entire state--what a strange little world they've got going in there.

I suppose this is what a lot of people imagine when they think college, but it's not the side of campus life I know best. I guess it's not surprising since the mission of my office is to get people focused on the problems of the world beyond, but the students I encounter are thoughtful individuals. They all seem to be at work fine-tuning life plans that account for how what they are doing now will get them where they want to go. Their goals generally have something to do with making the world a better place, and most of them have already started on that part. They know they are lucky to be where they are, and they see that they owe something back in turn. If the future is theirs, we have much to be hopeful about.

When I tell people I work at a university they often have disparaging things to say about young people today, and indeed there are aspects of the current youth culture that I don't necessarily appreciate, but these kids are an idealistic lot and it's hard not to like and even admire them.

I flatter myself, I know, but I like to think we--they and I--have things in common. I feel like a kid again myself when I hurry off to class (though this time around I have generally accomplished the assigned reading, which was frequently not the case in my first college career), and I am experiencing my own new beginnings. I don't have any plans, though, just the hope (and trust) that my future will unfold the way it is meant to.

Sometimes I want to these students them to relax, that things will work out just fine even if life doesn't t proceed along the exact track they are imagining (and to warn them that it probably won't!), but I expect that's a lesson they'll have to learn in their own good time.

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