If you have a few minutes take some time to read Nate Kreuter‘s delightful testimony of his experience as a first-generation college student visiting the University of Iowa. If only more of us were like the sorority student and academic dean he encountered along the way. This is a great piece. Here is a taste to whet your appetite:
En route to her car, which was parked in one of the long-term lots, we made polite conversation, which primarily consisted of me asking questions about the university and the city. At one point she, having learned where I was from, asked what it was like growing up so close to Charlottesville, Virginia and the University of Virginia.
I told her that it was great, particularly if you stayed the hell away from the fratty parts of town. I launched into an abbreviated (for me) tirade against the entitled, east coast “Greek” culture that galled me when I was a townie high school student. (Still galls me some.)
Thus began an important lesson for me in knowing one’s audience before responding pointedly to an innocuous question.
The young woman stopped, turned directly to me, and glared. Despite the numbingly cold Iowa winter day, I thought for a moment that I could feel piles of plowed snow in the parking lot melting behind me from the heat. “I’m the vice-president of my sorority,” she said slowly, deliberately, before turning away from me completely and continuing toward her car,
For a moment I didn’t know whether or not to keep following, but I did. Her initial congeniality never returned, but she still gave me a ride into Iowa City, and we returned to talking mechanically about the university for the duration of the 35 minute ride. Once in Iowa City, she dropped me off in front of the Methodist church where I was staying and wished me luck before I thanked her for the ride and we went our separate ways.