College Visit

We took Elliot on a visit to Ohio University this week, and the experience was a strange paradox on a couple of levels.

The official tour we joined was enormous: 90 prospective students plus family members, totalling perhaps 250 people. I had the distinct feeling of our tour group being like a herd of cattle shuttling through the slaughter-house. During the group presentation, they talked about the standard costs for attending OU (about $25,000 per year) — and I just couldn’t ignore the implications of our $100,000 (hopefully significantly defrayed by scholarships and such), or the tour group’s potential economic impact of nearly a million dollars… To the point that I felt cynical, abused, and indignant at the whole university system in America.

But at the same time, I was freshly-envisioned by the ministry possibilities in such an environment! The spiritual need is clear. The power and potential of young people on campus was palpable. And I was even encouraged by the global implications of collegiate ministry, when we ran into a group of business students from the Netherlands at Donkey Coffee in uptown Athens (they apparently cycle thirty students through the OU campus every semester!).

It was such a weird mish-mash of feelings!

On a couple of occasions, we tried to draw OU students out on the subject of their famous Halloween celebrations — and I believe I was projecting a spirit of genuine curiosity, without judgment — but I was clearly fed a white-washed, corporate, “parent-safe” script. Our tour guide laughed and said that “there’s a block party that happens, I think, but I’ve never been there,” with a sort of wink-wink expression on his face. And then Elliot’s friend and former classmate from Kent Roosevelt downplayed his experiences of Halloween saying that he walked uptown for a little while but the weather was so cold and wet that he and his friends just ended up low-key hanging out in their residence hall — but when I took a bathroom break, allowing Elliot and his friend a moment together without me, Elliot got a pretty different picture of OU Halloween celebrations.

None of that should be really surprising, I guess. It’s just weird. Getting older is weird. But at least “weird” can be interesting.

This entry was posted in Children, Culture, Culture Shock, Introspection, Ministry, Ohio, The United States of America, Transition, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

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