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September 09, 1993 - Image 63

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-09-09

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The Michigan Daily-New Student Edition-Perspective-Thursday, September 9, 1993 - Page 9

CHOICES
Continued from Page 1
And that does not mean merely finding a clique, finding
more people like you. "Diversity" is a word that was ritually
drilled into you at Orientation, but it means something. It
lingers, buzzes in your head when you find someone with an
experience so new, so different, so enlightening that your
whole perception shifts, tilts and-beautifully -expands.
There'sawoman whojustgraduatedfrom t4eUniversity.
She has big, sweeping plans. And they're not about fame or
wealth. She came to Ann Arbor four years ago with no
particular drive, no burning idea - probably like many of
you. But her sophomore year changed all that. She registered
into Project Community and Project Outreach with vague
ideas of erasing the thick weight of sheer academia from her
college experience. What she found was that she could help.
Meeting women who survived abusive spouses, talking
with homeless citizens - through these experiences, she felt
her vision of the future coming together slowly, the tangles
of her previous confusion unfurling at her feet. She volun-
teered more time, joined other groups, worked on cam-
paigns.

Now she leaves Ann Arbor with more than a diploma in
her eager hand. Joining the domestic Peace Corps, Volun-
teers in Service to America (VISTA), she has a chance to test
both her ideals and her experience-sharpened skills. She, like
some '90s pioneer, is moving West to work on a newly-
created drug and alcohol abuse program. And she knows that
this is all happening because she made a quick, bold choice
and joined a campus group about which she scarcely knew.
These stories fall together into a pattern. A seemingly
random, casual choice opensup a deep well of possibilities
from which you can draw, again and again, throughout your
life. But your participation-in a student group does not have
to result in agrand mission, either. Camaraderie, companion-
ship, recreation, peer discussions - these are all valid and
valuable things to derive from your involvement. There's a
Rollerblade Club, the yearbook, film cooperatives, theater
groups, a sailing team. If you have an interest, burning or
casual, there most likely exists a group to suit your needs. If
one doesn't, start your own.
The thing to remember here is to take that initial risk. Go
to that first meeting in some dank room in the MLB. Ignore
the sizing-up stares the members give you as you walk in.
Swallow hard that firm pressure of awkwardness and fear
that rises in your chest. Take a seat and listen. And don't be

afraid to speak, to offer up your outsider's opinion. The
toughest battle, the fight to leave the dorm room, to leave the
safe confines of what you've quickly made familiar, has
already been won. You're there. Make the moment your own.
And don't be afraid of the political. Ann Arbor has a
reputation for being the nesting ground for radicals, but
politics flourish on the ideaof a continuum, so whatever your
political background, an experience with an involved student
group can only challenge and enrich your particular brand of
ideology. The ancient idea of the noble cause still brings
people together, especially at your crucial age.
The slick and cold PR on this generation is that all you care
about are talk shows and videos, grunge and the remote control.
They say your level of social involvementextends tobuying Ben
and Jerry's Rainforest Crunch or occasionally using a condom.
Prove these cynics, these Baby Boomer pseudo-philosophers
wrong. Join Recycle U-M. Join Amnesty Intemational. Join the
AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power.
Whatever your slant or leaning, any involvement serves
to make you more alive, serves to make you a more valuable
human being. Talking about poverty or abortion or racism
with the folks on yourhall is one thing, but joining Habitat for
Humanity means you'll build houses to bring homeless
people in off the streets. That's ideology in action.

It comes down to what you want to make of your years at
the University. All graduates will remember the nights out
with friends or lovers. All graduates will recall the paper that
almost did them in. But some will also have another rich
resource on which to draw not only memories, but a lasting
influence.
Some will look back on the political rally that changed
their vote. Some will turn to their hard work organizing the
Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities, and its significance on
their lives, and the lives of others. Some will look right next
to them and see the friends they made in the Undergraduate
Psychology Society, or the Women's Rugby team or Hillel-
and they will know that these close friends came into their
lives solely by chance, and had they not taken that initial leap
and joined that group, they would never have, met these
people who have had such an impact on their lives.
It's about a choice, a small risk, a willingness to take a
chance. And the rewards can last a lifetime. Tom Hayden
took that first step and became the mouthpiece of a genera-
tion. Yourexperience need notbe so dramatic. Butyou are the
artist of your own life. You must choose the textures, the
shades, the soft intensity you want to give it. The chances you
take now could transform it forever, into something remark-
able, burning brightly.

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