It was great to watch the Wisconsin Badgers defeat Villanova today. I don’t exactly follow basketball, but hey, how many people become fans of a team because they’ve visited and loved the city? Lots. I have fond memories from my visit to Madison in December for a conference with Student Activity Directors from across the US. The campus is beautiful and everyone there was extremely friendly.
One of my best memories from the conference is from an unexpected moment. I had walked fairly deep into the downtown area looking for a spot to have breakfast and found a great little diner. I realized right away that I was in a campus haunt, because the place seemed to be full of hung over college kids, almost all of them wearing Badgers gear.
A young guy and girl came in and sat at the table next to mine, and not long into their time the young man said, “I brought you here for a reason…”
“Okay…” she responded.
“Well - it’s not you, it’s me.”
I nearly spat out my coffee. I was thinking, “Oh boy… not THAT line! Don’t use that one!”
Well it seemed like they got through it.
I ran a workshop later that day on how to boost school spirit. I had this great plan and had thought of a way to blend my story as a Leadership teacher and my school’s story with some tips to share, but it all fell flatter than I had hoped. My workshop was really well attended (maybe because I was ‘the Canadian guy’), and I heard some feedback from a colleague who is trying some of my tips at his school in Georgia.
The best moment of my workshop, though, was when I told them the anecdote about the breakup I witnessed that morning. It got the biggest laugh and the best response from the group. In a way, telling that story shattered the tension my audience could see in me.
That day I felt the pressure to deliver a bang-up workshop to fellow educators, yet I learned that the best way to ‘deliver’ is to capture the spirit of the place I'm visiting. To settle in there, even if there’s limited time. To relax. To observe. To listen. And to enjoy.
Keep going, Badgers.