You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
Written by Annie Curran|
March 23, 2016
When I was in high school, my hilarious history teacher Mr. York frequently joked that he wanted to start the Apathy Club. In his words, it would be a club, “where seniors would be encouraged to apply … although they won’t.” While it would always make us laugh, in a not so subtle way, Mr. York was conveying the indifference he had witnessed among the senior class year after year, especially when it came to joining new activities.
Four years later, I have witnessed a similar apathy among my senior peers. To be fair, I am guilty of it myself. After three active years on campus, it’s nice that my extracurricular commitments are winding down, so I completely understand why seniors are not jumping at the opportunity to join new clubs. However, this blog serves to argue that it is not too late to do something completely new — even in second semester.
This year, I served on the Leadership Committee for the 2016 W&M Global Film Festival. Now that it’s been a couple of weeks since the festival ended, the distance has provided me with the clarity of understanding that the GFF will be one of the most formative experiences of my college career. And I only just got involved in the making of the festival this year.
My journey with the festival has been from the outside in. My freshman year, an English professor offered extra credit to volunteer for one night. I worked as a “bouncer” at the party tent and then immediately left when my shift was done. But I remember thinking that everyone looked like they were having an incredible time. Therefore, my sophomore year, I enrolled in a 1-credit class where I had to attend a certain amount of films during the weekend. As an attendee, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience, but I envied the students running around in the STAFF t-shirts because it looked like they were thoroughly enjoying the work.
In my junior year, after I studied abroad for the summer in Galway, Ireland, I was involved with making a feature-length documentary about the experience. The documentary was going to premiere during the 2015 GFF. Therefore, I went from being a patron to a filmmaker, which provided me with yet another look into the festival. It also demonstrates how one experience (in this case studying abroad), can pull you into another.
Thus, as a senior, after being a “volunteer,” patron, and filmmaker, I decided to go for it and take the class that planned the festival during the fall. I enjoyed my work so much that it sparked a new passion. As a member of the creative committee, I loved making the promotional material for our events. That passion must have shown through, because by second-semester I was pulled up to be on the leadership committee.
During this experience, I learned a lot about how I work as a leader, how to work with people of varying personalities, and how to pull-off a very challenging and dynamic event. But more than that, I’ve become friends with some really amazing people that I want to stay in touch with after graduation. Of course, now my only wish is that I had gotten more involved with this activity earlier on in my college career.
Coincidentally, my roommate Julia’s dog, Georgie, is staying with us this week. Georgie is a sweet, calm standard poodle, who at 13-years-old, is a whooping 91 in dog years. She has been enjoying a week with three girls whom shower her with love, as well as a break from her younger sister Mia, who likes to steal Georgie’s food.
On Friday, we hosted a little party for our friend’s birthday. At first, Georgie did not know what to make of all of these new people. She sort of just looked around at our friends. Dare I say that Georgie was — apathetic. She was still adjusting to being in a new house and then, all of the sudden, there were so many new people to sniff. But when she realized that they were all friendly and they wanted to pet her, Georgie warmed up and enjoyed the attention. She developed her own rhythm. Georgie would walk around the house for about 20 minutes to see her adoring fans and then retire to a quiet room for a quick 10-minute nap. Then she would be back at it, socializing and proving to be the life of the party. Therefore, Georgie actually disproved the classic idiom that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Georgie’s acceptance of new friends, as a “senior” dog, can be a metaphor for seniors in college. It’s not too late to try something new. Senior year is a whole other year of college to add to not only your resume and skillset, but to create lasting memories. I’m not going to forget the 2016 GFF anytime soon, because even though it was an exhausting marathon of a weekend, we pulled it off and had fun along the way. And both Georgie and I have proved that we will not be the characteristic apathetic seniors.