Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Northern Michigan

I find that I gravitate toward the critical in this blog- possibly because it's easier to write passionately about or because it attracts more readers and responses, or because my liberal arts education has permanently scared me with a glass-half-empty mentality, at least when it comes to writing. Whatever the reason, I've managed to come up with a slew of topics I could write about that would criticize or highlight the inequalities in the education system, but to be honest, I'm really not in the mood to write about any of them right now. I had a really good day today and have been loving my job as much as ever, so why end the day on a critical note? Instead, I'll share some great moments from a college visit I recently chaperoned.

Last week was spring break for many schools in the area, so my organization tries to take advantage of that time by organizing a variety of over night campus visits to some schools that are farther away- and I found myself signed up to chaperone one such visit to Northern Michigan University. NMU is located in the upper peninsula, an area of land that I didn't even realize was part of Michigan- can you tell I'm not a midwesterner? (But, seriously people, the UP is not incorporated when you use your hand to describe Michigan... so how was I to know?) We took a group of 48 students to NMU for 2 nights and 3-ish days (including the two 8 hour bus rides) and it was actually a lot of fun and relatively little stress. Here are some highlights:

- Staying in a hotel. We stayed as a group at a Country Inn and Suites and it was a riot. In the evenings we had a couple hours of hang out time in the hotel when students could play games, do their nails, go swimming, or just hang out. The activities that the students came up with to do included: facials (yes, some girls brought face masks), personal questions with a group of 15 students in a circle (adorable!), Black Jack (with mini syrups as chips), and, apparently, running up and down the hallways squeeling. We had 3-4 students assigned to each room and at night we would do room checks and lights out checks (it kind of reminded me of being an RA, except that I was really bad at it). We were always a little nervous to do room checks, especially because we had one couple on the trip that kept sneaking off together, but the best thing we encountered was one of our students ironing his shirt for the next day while his two roommates looked on in disbelief.

- The campus tour: this provided an endless amount of material. The group was split in half, and my tour guide's name was Jon, a senior some-kind-of-art major. Jon, like many tour guides I've encountered (and like I was, I'm sure), tried hard to make a bunch of jokes that usually just didn't fly with the group. There ended up being a number of occasions when David and I were the only two laughing at the back of the group, it was rough. Some of Jon's gems:
- When talking about the Writing Center: "They mark it [your paper] up in red ink, just the way I like it"
- Trying to engage the students "Maybe we can be friends, we can meet up at starbucks after I'm off work" Creepy Jon..
- Describing the giant wooden dome that encloses the NMU football field "It's all wood- you look up and all you see is wood!!"
- Describing the security system on campus: "If you hit the red button, you'll KNOW you hit the red button" (Jon had a thing for red)
- Talking about the performing arts building that used to be called by the acronym F.A.R.T "the higher ups got wind of it and had the name changed"
- Describing his show on the campus radio station "I would just play whale calls and sometimes I would play the whale calls over other music and the music would sink up with the whale calls, it was beautiful!"

Oh, Jon. Between his awkward comments and the figure eight, 4 flights of stairs death march of a tour he led us on, we will certainly never forget NMU.

- Eating in a dining hall. For any of you readers still in college, enjoy the dining hall while it lasts, you will never get this much variety again! Victoria and I certainly took full advantage, and it earned Victoria the nick name "Chompy Chomp".

Overall, the trip was a lot of fun and I was amazed by how well behaved all of the students were. NMU is an interesting school that I probably will encourage a number of my students to apply to. To end this post, I will leave you with the poem that David, Victoria, and I wrote about our trip to share with people at work:

Over Spring Break to Northern Michigan University we did go.
We thought the bus ride would be a low.
When we had to watch Dodgeball it was, but OHHH…well.
The school, dear Jeron did try to sell.
To our delight the students fell….. in love.
It was so cold that you almost needed a glove.
We laughed, we climbed, we swam- so fun!
The students were certainly sad when the trip was done.

The campus tour was excellent, but wet and dreary.
To the students who wore flip flops, we were kind of leary.
They had Starbucks on campus, we wish we could have stopped.
But luckily in the bookstore for sweatshirts everyone shopped.
The panels were informative and held in a room that was fanc—y.
When the students seemed low energy we made them danc—y?

Staying in a hotel was certainly a highlight.
At midnight we checked to make sure the students had gone night-night.
We stocked the hotel with nail supplies, cards, and games.
The students certainly did not find the tiny swimming pool lame—s.
The food on campus was all you can eat.
And eat we did, it was such a treat!

We went to the gym- Oh me oh my
On the Rock wall, went up towards the sky
Ping pong and Wallyball were popular sports
There were lots of other things to do- all sorts
Back in the hotel we had to recover
But could have stayed more days- at least another

On the way back to Minnesota.
We weren’t surprised that there was snow—duh.
The students were pleased to watch Despicable Me.
However they did not cry, like in Toy Story 3.

Overall the trip was a success.
Our students saw a great University, which did impress
We hope some of these students will call Northern Michigan home
And everyday will get to see that big beautiful wooden dome.

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