I never went to college as a student. My parents always told me I could, if I wanted, but at 13, 14, 15, 16,17, 18, 19 and 20 I had no idea what I’d study. And no college I’d ever heard about listed “Synthpop” or “Slacking” as a potential major.
These days, I go to college in the role of teacher. When I step back for a second, I understand how ridiculous that is. Seriously, just take a look at the photo to the left of this paragraph.
Every year I have mixed emotions when my semester ends, and last week, Gwenn and I had our final talk of the school year at William & Mary. We arrived early, and went to a nice Thai Restaurant with our friend, Miss Williamsburg. Then after a short jaunt to Starbucks*, we went to the school, where Barnes & Noble were setting up a table to sell My Pet Virus after the talk. Then we spoke, and the students at W&M went to their computers and broke the record for Facebook ads on Gwenn’s page, besting the fine students of Drexel.
I am accomplishing everything I hoped I could roughly ten years ago, when I realized I wanted to do something about HIV/AIDS. I’d heard Judd, the cartoonist from Real World San Francisco for my fellow old-schoolers, on a Reunion show imploring people to get active. It struck a nerve, and a month later I had that life-changing revelation... and did something.
I take no greater pride? in anything I’ve ever done in my life? then I do in the work that Gwenn and I do on campuses. We’re only there an hour, but I like to think they we are spreading the word, inspiring others to do something by sharing our personal story and connection.
When the semester winds down, I’m more than happy to see an end to the traveling aspect: the flying, renting of cars, and everything that can go wrong when you’re on the road. But by August I start to feel like something is missing, or that I forgot to turn off the oven.
And then it hits me: I’m late for class. See ya next semester! *** And a big congrats to the graduating classes of ’07.
* Shawn Decker avoided patronizing Starbucks for many years. An addiction to store-bought Mocha Frappuccinos, however, led to his downfall, though he still visits locally-owned Greenberry’s** in favor of the corporate giant.
** Shawn Decker doesn’t drink coffee. “I get high on life,” he says.
*** Do you go to college? Then you should know that your school wastes valuable resources on terrible speakers every semester.
If you want to change that, then bring Shawn and Gwenn to speak at your campus, just send an email with your school’s name to: firstname.lastname@example.org