The Observer: From Reagan to Logan

Monday morning I flew to Boston from my hometown, Washington, DC. I’m accustomed to this flight path, but as I sat there I was still excited about the experience. You see, there are two major advantages to flying; people watching and unabashedly sleeping in public. Let’s keep the sleeping in public comment for another post, because today I’d like to focus on people watching and just how they prepare for an imminent flight.

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When I sit at the gate, I always sit with my bag in the chair next to me, a bottle of water gently resting against the bag, my cell phone in hand waiting for the most important call/text/email, and my eyes fixed on the crowd (no, not in a creepy way) in what I like to call “the eyes of a person conducting a sociological study.” This is my specific routine, but there are seemingly precise patterns in which people prepare for a flight. Some calmly chat or text on their phone; some scarf down copious amounts of pizza, coffee, or sandwiches; some are eager and walking in circles; some are completely filled with anxiety that manifest in screaming at loved ones, holding the stress in their mannerisms, or the select few who complain at the counter. I’m confident there are additional preparatory flight rituals, but these are my favorites.

While we find ourselves confronted with the third week of classes, I concluded that these pre-flight routines are much like the process of beginning a new year. We know what to expect (unless we’re a first time flyer), yet we are still filled with the urge to squeeze in whatever we believe to be sacrificed when the year starts. While many are cycling on or off co-op, I still hear the same messages. The fall carries with it new policies, events, and over-scheduling. So the real question is how do you prepare for the year? Do you find yourself becoming overly stressed because you didn’t prepare for your organization as much as you hoped? Do you feel organized and relaxed, perhaps overjoyed for the arrival of first-year students? Do you see as much of your family and friends as possible, holding with you the understanding that it may be some time before you will see them again? Each question grips with it the weight of anticipation, much like a flight.

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I would like to consider ways to break the cycle. What if the gates at the airport were filled with people relaxing, each seat with its own plug, and laughter filling the space? How would your flying experience change? If the environment dictates the behavior, how does the environment we all create at Northeastern dictate our condition before the start of the fall? I invite each of us to analyze the work that we do to be effective. It is the mission of the Center for Student Involvement to enhance the experiential learning and holistic development of students. We want you to be visionaries. So this is me, asking you to help us create the environment to allow you to board your next fall semester feeling so relaxed that you can sleep with your mouth wide open; drool and all.

Send us your comments, attend a SOAR program, visit the Programming Lab in 240 CSC, go to a national conference, or maybe even become the president of your organization. I want you to do what you love, but do it well. Let yourself feel prepared, do the work, and don’t settle for mediocrity. Then, maybe then, you will enter the fall with a mind filled with ideas and fewer sleepless nights. Let us all be the innovators of the ideal involvement experience.

Go for it,

Cynthia

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