Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Becoming An Ambassador

As I get into the swing of things at school, I can't help but notice whenever I run into a fellow OA that I had not even met that person a year ago. All the ambassadors are amazing people, some of which I've formed very close bonds with. Going forward in my life, I won't be able to think back on college without touching on the time I spent as an Ambassador, and the wonderful people I have met through it. Nearly everyday I run into someone on campus, and it makes my day. Catching up on our lives in the ten minutes before class starts with Adair, Erin and Brian (and making snarky remarks throughout). Getting dating tips from Aaron. Seeing a flustered Ashley between classes. Joking around with Caleb. Seeing Emily begrudgingly trudging to Spanish. Chatting with Erika. Oddly seeing Hunter multiple times all in random locations. KP with a big smile on her face and an even bigger Accounting textbook under her arm. Being acknowledged by THE Kayley Seawright at the end of the First Friday Parade. The most happy person in the world, Kena. A lovely chat with Lydia. Making sarcastic comments to Miranda. A handshake with Neyle. Realizing Sam knows the glory of Buffalo Chicken Wraps from Hendy. A point and wink to SG. An overly peppy SK. Gossiping in the office with Sarah...just Sarah. Extended catch up sessions with Senator Sidney J. Nimmons. An excited "Jallyyyy" from Sophie. Flashing the Turtle to Tanner. Having a helluva run with The Tim Erb. Not to mention going to the NSFP Office and watching the pro staff drop everything just to talk to you and catch up on your life. Seeing Wes's return from Knoxville. Keeping up with Lauren as she tears up Las Vegas. Explaining to a perplexed friend, "Oh, I know them from Orientation." or "They were an OA."

My friends don't always seem to understand, and perhaps it's a bond that is difficult to articulate. The role has certainly changed me - for the better - and every ambassador had a part in that. I'm more confident; I have a better vision of myself, a broadened scope of life at Clemson and beyond. I've made close friends within Greek Life which I would have just reduced to stereotypes without getting to know them only a year ago - and I hope these people can have a new vision of a Central Spiriter, an independent, hell even a Northerner in some cases. Everyone had a passion for Clemson, and it was an important lesson to learn just how many ways that passion can be manifested - that my way is far from the only way. I've changed so much in the past year. I'll continue to change in the years to come. And it's inspiring to look back and reflect on who I was years ago.

I had always wanted to spend a summer in Clemson. I knew from over the summer after my  freshmen year that working with Orientation was what I wanted to do to make that happen. My post-sophomore summer I found a great study abroad option, and I do not regret taking advantage of it at all. I knew that after junior year, it would be my last opportunity. I wanted to help students who might have a difficult transition, and assure them that everything would be great. They would come to love Clemson as much as I do. It would change them, and that's a perfectly acceptable and positive thing. In all honesty, I do not remember too much about my Ambassador. His name was Tim, he was in a fraternity. I couldn't tell you his major, his home town, or his word of advice - but no doubt he affected me, and influenced how I was as an Ambassador. He wasn't going to assume the role of constantly happy, upbeat, in-your-face because that was not his personality. He was honest, he treated us as adults, and he prepared us for a realistic transition to Clemson. I aspired to have these same qualities as an Ambassador, and I hope I achieved them. In fact, as a kind of homage to "Tim's Team" I went ahead with my idea of "Team Air Jordan" as my group name.

Going in to the interview process, I had no idea if I would actually get the job. I didn't have a lot of applicable experience. I didn't have the personality of a typical super-out going image of an Orientation Ambassador. I take a while to warm up to people, and that obviously was not an ideal attribute for someone who needed to interact with 50 new incoming students a week in small group sessions. This came through in the group process interview. Looking back at my file, I was "forgettable." I was "quiet." I was listed as a "maybe." The personal interview painted a different picture. I was nervous, but my personality shined through. The reviews were raving. I knew a lot about how campus worked by my junior year. I had experiences my peers couldn't match, like studying abroad and holding an exec position in a major student organization. My visions of myself as an Ambassador impressed the pro staff, and I walked out of the Union with a quiet confidence and pleased with how the interview went. One December morning I received a friend request from Kayley and a confirming phone call from Kaela, and the rest, as they say, is history.