Our college year starts with a retreat (weekend away).
Lecturing staff, administrative staff, board, full time students, part time students AND all their families.
It starts Saturday morning and runs through until after Sunday lunch.
70% of people groan at the idea. Even those who identify as intensely extroverted may find it draining.
The program is low key and flexible, but designed so you are always with people.
And yet – it is so valuable.
It builds relationship. It builds community. It shapes QTC for the whole year.
It reflects the truth of our unity in Christ as we learn from his Word; it shows the variety of people and ‘ministries’; it helps us to know others are struggling along with us.
This year was my 6th year of attendance.
Three great things about being an upper year.
1. Not everyone is new.
At least a third of the cohort I already know. It grants me more energy to meet new people, and provides the respite of sitting next to a familiar face sometimes.
2. I know what’s happening.
I’m familiar with the timetable and expectations. I try to meet people whilst waiting in the queue for meals – quieter than the dining hall to start a conversation and you have found someone with whom to sit.
I’m aware of the benefits and seek them out. I try to meet more of female students – a throwback to when we were few in number.
3. I know myself.
An awareness of me and my needs.
This could mean skipping a draining session [taking my husband out of the noisy auditorium during family games and walking on the beach instead].
Sitting next to a familiar face at the start of small group activities – it’s easier to keep a conversation going when you have somewhere to go.
So reader – when you are next stuck with new people;
in a seat near you at church; in a row at a conference…
- Acknowledge a small proportion of us are excited to meet new people, but most of us are happy to have had a connected conversation.
- Say hello and ask a broad question. [How are you connected to the college community?]
- It’s ok to have times of silence. Most people need time to process, especially with new conversation topics.
A. On our way to retreat, I prepped my paragraph. The quick couple of sentences to say when people ask about me.
“I’m a part time student, about to do my last subject. Excited that my husband is studying with me this semester.” I forgot to expect the next question… “What will you do after you finish college?” Oops.
B. I was brave when someone asked what else I do apart from college, I acknowledged managing a chronic health condition took up time and energy. Twice that moved our conversation to place of great encouragement for my conversation partner.