In May last year, right after my last exam, I spoke with my parents on the phone. I distinctly remember saying these words to my dad, "This year will easily the best year of my Calvin experience."
I had served as a Student Senator, started the African Students Association- the Rookie Student Organization of the Year - with a couple of friends, and was about to jump into the meat of my job as an Orientation Intern. There was just no way my Calvin experience could get better. There was no way the coming year was going to outdo that one.
I was wrong!
This year has been phenomenal and formative. I've built a lot of really strong relationships. Revisited the homeland. Lived in a different city. Worked in the professional world. Developed a more independent mind. Learnt to put myself out there..........Become a better person.
Along the journey that has been the past 12 months, I've learned some really important lessons. In my last blogpost this year, I thought I'd share the Top 5 with you guys.
So here they are - my top 5 takeaways from the past year:
There really is no place like home
I got to go home to Jos, Nigeria in December. I hadn't been home in one and a half-years (too long), yet it felt so right to be there! There's just something about driving the streets where you grew up and having conversations with the people who've seen you at your best and very worst that is really.....refreshing. I know that the phrase "there's no place like home is cliche....but the truth is that there really isn't.
Grand Rapids is awesome. DC this semester was great...bit J-Town will always have my heart!
Take "dumb risks".....sometimes they work
I knew that I wanted to serve Calvin's student body through Senate - an institution that I truly valued. A lot of people I love and respect at Calvin had told me that they really thought I would do well as Student Body President. The only problem was that I was studying off-campus in Washington DC - campaigning would be a logistical nightmare and a really dumb move.
With only two weeks to elections, not much money in my bank account, no clue who my running mate would be and at the risk of really offending my supervisors in DC, I decided to run for Student Senate. Next year, I get to serve a school I love through an institution I truly believe in.
It's kind of crazy to think that I almost missed out on this opportunity because I was trying to play life "safe".
Surround Yourself with People who will make you a Better Person
This year I got to be a part of a men's group for the first time in my life. Without even knowing it, each and everyone of these "men" (sometimes our actions were really boyish) thought me about different aspects of life and navigating the daily struggle to become men of true substance.
If we truly are the average of the people we hang out with, there's no reason not to aim high. With these guys, I definitely "friended-up" - so to speak.
role reversal - in this video which we made for our reunion - the incoming students play us and we play them...it was nice to see what we thought of eachother :P
Change is Unavoidable. Growth is optional.
You snooze, you lose....I think everyone is familiar with that term. That phrase has a special place in my heart not only because I am one of those people who has a distinct affinity for the snooze button but also because I think it represents one of the biggest truth in life: Your experiences are what you make them.
From February till May this year, I had the opportunity to intern at the Office of the Mayor of Washington DC in the African Affairs Division. I'll be the first to admit that my internship sounds more glamorous than it actually was. I didn't wear a suit to work everyday. In fact I only met the Mayor on three occasions - in my defense, he does have over 500 people working in his offices and countless other events and ceremonial duties to perform .
Because of that, many of the interns at my office hit the snooze button. They were disappointed in the internship and didn't put in the effort. I decided to do otherwise - I continued to put in my best. What's funny is that my supervisors recognized that and soon I was the one representing the office at Policy Breakfasts on Capitol Hill and other cool functions.
Even though there was a difference between my expectations and my reality, I chose growth - and eventually my expectations did become reality.
Give everyone the benefit of the doubt
In August, I had the chance to lead a team of 12 amazing leaders to welcome Calvin's 114 incoming international students to their new home. Five months earlier, my two supervisors and I had to choose that team from a pool of 44 applicants.The team I had in mind and the team that ended up as the Final 12 could not have been more different.
In my mind, a leader was a certain kind of person - loud, outgoing, in your face......visionary, commanding, larger than life! Throughout the process, I had to make an intentional effort to be "open-minded" to different individuals and the unique styles of leadership they could bring to the team.....boy am I glad I did! Even now at the end of it, I can't imagine doing the program with any other group of 15.
In closing, I'm thankful for the past year - the opportunities that God has provided (through Calvin and otherwise) and the platforms that He has gifted me. I do not take those for granted. I am also thankful for the people he has brought into my life who've helped me along the way. It would not have been possible without them.
My heart is full!
Please quote me on this one - "This has easily been the greatest year of my Calvin experience."
Here's hoping that this means next year is even greater - just like the last time I said those words :)
See you in September!