Thursday, February 24, 2011

Definitions

I'll be honest, for the past couple of days I was struggling to figure out what to blog about today. Blogging was one of those things that was in the back of my head, but because I didn't have something I knew I was going to write about, it kept annoying me. But then in a conversation with a student this morning as he was preparing to go to school, an idea popped into my head. So here we go...

Though somewhat nerdy, I am a person who really likes to look up words and know what the definition of a word is. Sometimes I feel as though I use a word but fail to truly know what it means. So I use dictionary.com more than the average person. I am lame, I know. But rather than go to dictionary.com today, I figured I would poll my students and see how they would define and/or describe certain words. During study hours I walked into different rooms and asked the guys to help me define/describe/give an example of these three words: purpose, patience, studying. I figured purpose was a serious word, while patience was somewhat serious and somewhat goofy, and studying set them up for an entertaining answer. It was an interesting exercise that I plan on doing again - I think it was good for them to be forced to come up with a definition on the spot.
I hope you find their definitions enlightening and entertaining.

Purpose:
"The reason something exists"
"The real reason you're doing something."
"I have yet to find one for my life."
"The reason behind something. It's designed intent."

Patience:
"How long you can go without punching someone"
"When your sister gets on your nerves and you don't slap her. Wait...it's how long you go before you slap her."
"Doing something consistently even with it's not very fun."
"Love"
"A Virtue!"
"Controlling your emotions."

Studying:
"What you're distracting me from doing right now."
"Looking at things you looked at before, over and over again."
"Something you do to get into a better college."
"A waste of time."
"Not beneficial."
"The way to learn more."
"A 21st century word for slave labor."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Snapshots of life

Today I wanted to give you a few pictures of the things I have been talking about to help you get place some images with all my stories...

This is one of my first floor guys at our recent home wrestling match. It was a great event and our guys competed very well. It was great to have all of Sonne there cheering on our guys...


These two guys are actually both from Sonne. One rooms on the first floor, and the other on the second floor. The guys watching had a good time cheering for their floor. I was hoping for a tie - but I don't think that is possible.


A group of the first floor guys got together during study hours to study for a history test. They are quizzing each other right here, but soon grow tired of it and get off topic. That's where I step in and keep them on task!


Two weeks ago we had home basketball games, and we have home basketball games again this weekend. This year our teams are doing a great job, and are competing in every game. Tomorrow will be 'senior night' and we hope they will go out with a win.



These guys are waiting to check into the game. As you can tell, it was a close game, and very intense.


Here you see a "Sonne birthday creeking" Even though it was cold, I decided to get in on the action and help carry our guy to the creek.


and just a few random pictures that I have taken over the years that I enjoy...



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Next year...

Even though we are nearing the halfway point of February there is beginning to be a lot of talk here at BFA about "next year." Students start to get anxious wondering who will be returning, and the school needs to know so that they can begin to look to refill the vacant positions. I have come to a decision that I fully believe to be in God's will, and I am very excited about it.
Starting in August I will transition out of my current role, an RA, and remain at BFA and move into the academic section of the school as a guidance counselor. At this point in time it is my intention and desire to remain in this role for two academic years.
Why a guidance counselor?
There are many factors that play into this, and I would like to highlight a few of them.
- I will still have plenty of interaction with students on a daily basis. I will have an office in the school where I will have an open door policy, allowing students to come sit, hang out, and plan their academic careers. Unfortunately I may not see students as frequently as I do in the dorm, but sometimes seeing them so much can lead to familiarity without depth. I know I will be disappointed to not see the guys on a daily basis, but I believe there can be a positive twist to that.
- One way I can maintain that depth while out of the dorm, is to ensure my apartment is a place that thrives on hospitality. I am very excited to have my own place. I have been living in a dorm type situation for the past seven years. As I have mentioned, in one sense I will deeply miss it - at the same time it will be a great change of pace. I am looking forward to having students over to watch a soccer game, a football game (Go Packers!), or to play games and hang out. My apartment is going to become a 'home away from home' for many students.
- Not only will I look to keep my apartment open to students, but I envision having a strong desire to serve the Res Life staff. I would love to have RAs come over on Mondays (our day off) or invite a couple sets of dorm parents over on Thursday (their day off). I already threw around the idea with a few RAs about trying to get a Wii over the summer, and establishing a "Monday night bowling league" in my apartment.
- I also believe the guidance counselor role will provide me with some amazing experience. The more I learn about the role, the more I find myself thinking about pursuing it long term (don't hold me to that!). I am thrilled to see "the other side" of the school and learn about what else is out there.

Why do I say I will be in this role for two years?
- I imagine I will have a learning curve I will have to get over as quickly as possible. While I can learn on my feet, I would like to get grounded in my position and enjoy time functioning on a highly competent level.
- Staff members here are facing an issue of "toatlization." Long story short, after serving at the school for five years it may become necessary to relocate for at least 366 days. Believe it or not, but I close to finishing my third year in Germany, and therefore would reach the five year mark, after two more years of serving.

Where will I be, and what will I be doing this summer?
I would love to supply you with an answer, but right now I honestly don't have one. I have a few options and am trying to use wisdom and discernment in making a decision. I get asked that question fairly frequently, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to address it. I have two very close friends who are getting married this summer and I would absolutely love to attend their weddings, so that may bring me back to the States for a bit. Stay tuned, because I am not sure what will happen at this point.


Thanks for keeping updated on my blog. I honestly don't know who reads this, but I know there are people who do. Don't be a stranger, if you have questions, comments, thoughts please feel free to let me know.
Also - if you would like to receive my blog updates via email, please let me know and I can add you to my distribution list.


Tommy

Thursday, February 3, 2011

You never know what you'll find...

Over the past week I have received a few emails inquiring about my plans for next year. I had every intention of blogging about my plans for next year today, until an unforgettable event occurred around 10:17pm last night. Therefore I will postpone that until next week and will choose to instead tell you an entertaining story. (Plus I have been battling a nasty head cold for the past few days so an entertaining story was more appealing to me.)

First of all, let me introduce you to one of the funniest kids I have ever met, Caleb.


He is new to BFA this year, and is a sophomore living on the first floor with me. In fact, his room is right next to mine and some weekends I have had to remind him of this fact, as the walls are pretty thin and I have good ears. Caleb has spent most of his life in northern Germany in a city that was a part of what was formerly East Germany. With my love of history he and I have shared many conversations discussing the evidence still visible today left behind by the communist presence in East Germany.
Within the dorm he is energetic, spontaneous, hilarious and unpredictable. He is consistently providing entertainment for all those around him. Sometimes I think he doesn't even realize how funny he is, which seems to make it even more entertaining. He is an amazing guy. Yesterday he had a performance in his french class, so he and I spent some time over the past few days practicing and dialoging back and forth in french.
Yesterday afternoon I walked into my room after spending a few hours down at school helping at basketball practice, and while I was gone Caleb had snuck into my room and placed a few "characters" around my room. He is extremely artistic and got a hold of some silly-putty and created a few different characters to place in my room. I instantly started laughing upon seeing them, and when I called him out on it at dinner, he burst out laughing as well.
At dinner the announcement was made that the 1st floor guys needed to put down their dirty laundry, so that I could start washing/drying/sorting it all. I threw in the first load around 7:15 and was rotating everything every half hour. Around 9.45pm I was walking the halls and happened to be walking right past Caleb as my watch started beeping, indicating it was time to switch loads of laundry. Without thinking anything of it, I told Caleb what I was doing and disappeared down into the laundry room.
Roughly 30 minutes later my watched once again told me I needed to switch loads. I descended the stairs, turning on the lights as I went into the laundry room. As I started to pull clothes out of the washer, from under all the clean clothes out pops Caleb, screaming, and scaring me half to death! I was startled, lost my breath, and completely and utterly scared. Caleb simply stood there looking innocent, yet with a goofy grin, pleased that he had accomplished his goal. I don't think that I get startled easy, but Caleb downright scared me!
After catching my breath and regaining my senses I asked how long he had been there, and how he knew I would be coming down. After all, it was 10:17 and he had to be in his room, going to bed at 10:30. Apparently shortly after our brief conversation at 9:45 Caleb realized he was bored and didn't have anything to do, so he decided to go to the laundry room and see if any of his clothes were clean. In doing so, he noticed that one of the washer's timer was at 20 minutes - so he figured I would be coming down to the laundry room sometime in the next twenty minutes. SO HE HID IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM FOR TWENTY MINUTES WAITING FOR ME! I could only admire his patience and diligence to wait for such a long time for me.
By the time I had finished what I went down to do, Caleb had made his way up to the living room and joyously told those in the room of his success. Everyone seemed to get a good laugh out of it, and when I walked in the living room a little later they all asked, "Tommy, how is your laundry going?" I could only roll my eyes, look at Caleb, and start laughing.


I asked Caleb if I could retell this story on my blog, which caused his eyes to widen and a huge smile covered his face as he giggled and said, "absolutely."
Congratulations Caleb! You got me good!