Another June comes and presents me the opportunity to meet the incoming class of freshmen on campus. For me, it’s a mix of hope of what can be and empathy for the looks I see from those who aren’t quite sure how this freshman year thing will pan out. (I was you. I get it.) Working on a college campus is perhaps the oddest combination of predictability and unpredictability. Everything is the same each year and nothing is the same.
Yoni and I sit beside each other at Open Houses and BBQs and Org Fairs, watching the world go by. We love the enthusiasm and funny conversations that often greet us. The predictable is packaged in parents wanting to know about High Holidays, in students wanting to make sure they can grab Shabbat dinner. A mom wanted me to know this year how handsome her son was. Another complained how uncommunicative her son was, merely 5 minutes after he had held the most eloquent conversation with me. These families are blessings, excited to jump in and be a part of building something great.
But then there is the mom or dad or student who throws a bit of side eye. They hurry past, worried we may bite, with their bouncing curls, their New York look, and our gut knows – this is a Jew. They don’t want us to catch them, to say hi, to push a conversation they do not want to have. Perhaps they feel they don’t belong.
But guess what, they do.
You – the one who hurried by – YOU are the one I want to talk to. You have a seat at the table just like your Shabbat dinner-asking friend. Your curls are mine, your questions are mine. Where do I belong? Do I know enough? Do my parents’ choices and mine need to be the same? I get it, I’m with you, let’s do coffee.
Hope to see you in September, student rushing by.