Over the weekend, more than 25,000 people attended Greek Fest, the cultural festival celebrating Greek food, music, dancing and art. As I walked through the venue, I couldn’t help but notice that everyone was smiling, laughing and just enjoying the uplifting ambiance that is Greek Fest. People lined up for hours to get food from the Mega Food Booth, but not once did I hear anyone complain. Instead, people talked with the other patrons in line and some people, like me, made connections with people that changed their lives.
As I stood in line for a gyro sandwich, I accidentally bumped into an elderly man in front of me. After apologizing, he and his wife introduced themselves and began to tell me their story. This persian couple from Iran told me about their love for Greek food and their love for America and how much success their children have had in this country.
45 minutes go by and the three of us are at the front of the line. The couple asked me where my friends were and after informing them that I came alone, they insisted I be their guest and they’d buy my dinner.
I spent the next 2 hours trying every version of lamb I can imagine and hearing stories about their travels and thinking to myself again, how happy they were. It dawned on me as we danced in circles with at least 50 other strangers that this happiness all around me was the feeling I craved more than anything. Everyone at Greek Fest just wanted to eat and dance and share culture, and they were so excited about it. Even the volunteers were laughing and dancing as they worked.
The following Monday I went to school and looked around campus and most people walked alone. The people in line at Starbucks huffed and puffed at the length of the line, and students wore earphones walking to class to tune out the construction going on seemingly everywhere.
It got me thinking, we all applied to Fresno State. We asked to be here, because we want to be here. Shouldn’t we be excited to learn? It might be more work than dancing and eating, and maybe the Starbucks line is making us late to class, but I wonder if we change the way we think about school and how special college really is, maybe it won’t seem so dreadful.
We are privileged to live in a country where college is accessible to most people and education is honored. We should be happy to have a campus to study at, a place to meet new people and try new things. College is a place learn and grow, and when we leave we will remember it as the place that shaped us. It’s corny, I know, but a simple reminder of how awesome it is to be at school might make that term paper a little less terrifying and a little more exciting. Some might say that putting positivity into everything is cliche and every day isn’t an exciting happy day, and that may be true. But why not try to make it one?