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Saluting Sammie

May 5, 2012

A few weeks ago, I attended a Dole Institute of Politics dinner with a President Johnson historian. I didn’t actually meet him, but I did have dinner with an elderly woman named Sammie. Throughout the dinner, she asked me about my freshman year in college. She caused me to reflect on the entire year, and this is what I learned:

1) The day I walked into the Dole Institute was a day my life changed. My first experience at Dole was a 9/11 remembrance ceremony. I dressed nicely and walked across the bridge to West Campus, found the really cool-looking building, and stepped inside. I listened to people talk about their experiences on 9/11 as I sat in a room that holds metal structures that were part of the World Trade Center. That part gives me chills. Anyway, I returned to the Dole Institute dozens of times over the course of the year; it became my place of solace – a place I could go to when I wanted to get away from everything else. Lectures there also made me realize politics will forever be a passion and nothing more, for I do not want to do political reporting – or enter the political realm, for that matter.

2) We could save so much water if waiters would stop refilling water glasses when they are only somewhat empty. Something that concerns Sammie to a good degree was this issue of water wasting, for she remarked that every time she goes to a restaurant, she feels obligated to drink all the water at the end of a meal because it will go to waste otherwise. She makes a good point, and she told me to write a column about it when I am a professional journalist. Will do, Sammie, will do.

3) I had a very unique freshman year in that I know most people on my floor. I already knew this, but having someone on the outside tell me this made it all the more real. Sammie made me realize how grateful I really should be. She also made me realize I should take everything in in the moment, for looking back on the year made me nostalgic for those memories.

4) I’m lucky. I’m so lucky I had the freshman year I did – lucky I made the friends I made, had the professors I had, enrolled in the classes I did, went to the games, attended the lectures, had the realizations, and experienced what I experienced. Nothing could replicate the awesomeness that was my freshman year.

5) A simple dinner can impact a life. I had already reflected on most of what Sammie and I discussed, but she made me realize that my life – what I do and how I interact with people – makes a difference. I know that’s probably stretching it for a simple dinner, but the fact that Sammie was so interested in the life of a college girl she just met is very gratifying. She cared when I told her the details of my life story, and I don’t think she realized how much that meant to me. Now, my life wasn’t completely altered by this dinner, but I think I learned to ask more questions in the future. Yes, I’m a journalism major, which means asking questions for a living, but I mean in the day-to-day, asking a simple question can absolutely make someone’s day. Sure, asking “How are you?” is a good start, but going beyond that, really getting to know a person, even if just for a dinner or a plane ride or a five-minute queue, can make someone’s day and introduce you to someone extraordinary.

I wish I had taken the time to ask Sammie some questions. She seemed like she could have had an amazing story to tell, but instead, she heard mine. I hope I made her dinner enjoyable, for she certainly made mine unforgettable.

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From → Freshman

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