By Nash Wills, Co-Editor
There are a few common phrases that are said so often by T-birds, that, as a new student, you might start to think of them as clichés or stereotypes. One of them goes something like this: “No matter how long I’ve been away, or how much has changed since I’ve been gone, when I arrive on campus, I always feel as though I’m coming home.” Did I say cliché? Our time here is so short that, during our first few months on campus, it feels as though we have a tendency to just nod in agreeance with these phrases without completely absorbing them as being grounded in anything real. It all comes at us so fast. As time passes though, most of us begin to believe them as true. For my first article of the new school year, I want to share with you my “I’m home” moment at Thunderbird:
My appreciation for the school, without question, grew over the summer. I had spent mine in wintertime, in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar doing consulting work for a business development center, and when I arrived in Glendale last week, I was still in the throes of culture shock. Tómas had just gotten back from Paraguay on Sunday night and a couple of us decided to do some catching up in the fish area that isn’t actually the fish—the smaller one on the opposite side of the pool. Time passed, stories were shared, and by the time 11:30 rolled around, everyone was about ready to call it a night. Alas, for myself, it wasn’t to be. Call to the scene a quite common sighting on campus: Donald Kurangwa (MGM 16) and Matt Dahler (MGM 16) walking back to campus after having passed an hour or two over at Tony’s. I was happy to see them and I’m never one to shy away from interesting conversation, which is a good thing because sure enough, there was interesting conversation to be had: Donald had just gotten back from Ho Chi Mihn City.
Asking him questions and listening to him talk about his experience, I found empathy in my own. Was it a big city? Were there people everywhere on the streets? Was it a social culture? Did you see any T-birds there? How was the food? What was the exchange rate like? I was fascinated. To me, Madagascar had been unlike any place that I could have ever imagined. It was the first time I had been to a place where there wasn’t a single remnant of the society that I had left behind, and it was life changing. It thrilled me to hear Donald reflect similar sentiments towards his time in Vietnam, and it thrilled me to think about the inexhaustible variety of life that the world has to offer.
Towards the end of our conversation, Donald said something that struck me, and I immediately went back to my room and wrote it down—it’s the reason why I’ve written this article. He told me that he had recently applied for a job and that he had unexpectedly gotten a call back. Out of all the résumés and applications that the recruiter had received, Donald’s had stuck out to him because of his Vietnam experience. He told Donald that he could tell that he was an explorer, and that explorers all have inherently different thought processes. They are more willing to be adventurous, to take risks, and to be curious. It was now up to Donald to market that trait which makes him most unique. After his story, Donald looked at Matt and I and said: “That’s what Thunderbird is. That’s what sets us apart from the rest. We are all explorers and we all think about the world differently.” It was right then—late at night out by the “small fish,” having a coincidental conversation that led to profound inspiration—that I realized I was home.
Feature image courtesy of: Das Tor News