Today I will be attending the wedding of one of my former students.  It’s as close to being the mother of the bride as it will come.  

Natalie and a friend were both from out of state and “stuck” on campus with nothing to do over Labor Day early in their college careers.  I bonded with them when I took them to the zoo over the weekend. I also I earned “50,000 cool points” from them for jumping into a pool with a (black, washable) dress on.  In the seven years since we have been apart, each weekend we have written notes to each other, in old-fashioned longhand via snail mail!  A friendship this does make.

It has served me well to have an inter-generational perspective on what is happening in the world.  Through her eyes, I have seen the struggle of a new graduate looking for work, starting out on her own, paying back loans, and now beginning this new chapter in life.  It has assisted me as I craft messages and materials to reach out to students and prospective students on our campus.

Think of the relationships you maintain.  Are they all with people your own age?  If so, you may be missing a viewpoint that could assist in your understanding and empathy.  Try to cultivate a conversation, if not a friendship, from someone who is at a different stage of their life and see what you can learn — and cherish.

— beth triplett

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