Spending the weekend around 300 college students was like poking an I.V. straight into an artery and draining a fifty gallon drum of Red Bull Energy Drink. (I’m the 4th guy from the left in the above photo with students from Ottawa) I have to respectfully disagree George Bernard Shaw’s statement that youth is wasted on the young. After this, I have decided to spend more time around young people. They dream big and they inspire me.
I had the exquisite pleasure of joining these college students at the Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit. When I took Ambassador Qatar of Bangaladesh to the airport, he asked if we could do it all again next weekend because he had not had that much fun in a long time.
Like him, I was inspired by:
- Their desire to dream
- The ability to dream big is sometimes lost as we age because there are people and circumstances that shatter our dreams. Cynicism too often replaces hope as we age.
- Their desire to be led
- Their civility in discourse
- Flipping on the evening news and watching the vitriolic nonsense in Washington, D.C., was a stark contrast to sitting in sessions listening to students respectfully challenge and disagree with each other.
- Their intentional inclusion
- Although they would cluster occasionally with people from their own college, I noticed they intentionally mixed up their seating arrangements. Their language was also peppered with inclusivity instead of an “us versus them” mentality.
They also shook me loose, literally, of my sometimes-stuffy professionalism and snooty-tooty dignity. As I was visiting with one group, I heard my name shouted across the room, “Rick McNary will do it!” Someone came up with the idea of turning the popular dance, “The Harlem Shake,” into “The Hunger Shake! They asked me to lead it. My children have disowned me, but the students and I had a blast!
I have often said I will do anything to help fight hunger and engage others in the fight as long as it is not illegal, immoral, or unethical. They made me eat my words. While I felt like a fool dancing by myself to start the Hunger Shake, I was reminded to just have fun and quit worrying about what people think about me. Although I might have looked like an old geezer, I felt like my 2-year-old grandson, Evan, who points at my iPod and says, “thith” which means I’m to crank up the tunes so he can run around the house dancing.
I’ve decided I’m going to dance more often and with more abandoned. Maybe I won’t look like an arthritic Chubby Checker doing the twist.