In early-Fall 2009, Mr. Alan Huesing, ETBU’s Director of International Education, asked me to join him on trip. ETBU’s Theatre Department was performing at a festival in Częstochowa, Poland, and Alan was accompanying them as a guide, nurturing ETBU’s relationship with a local sister university, and working towards setting up future travel courses experiences. As the then-Department Chair in Kinesiology, I was asked to join the travel group to explore course options for our department. What a great opportunity!
But I really didn’t want to go, because I was afraid.
I am a Type-I diabetic (I may write more-extensively about this later), and at the time I had been on an insulin pump for only a few weeks after taking multiple injections every day for nearly 20 years. I was not at all comfortable yet with my mastery of this technology that was literally keeping me alive (and that runs on a single AAA battery).
What if I screwed it up? What if something happened to my insulin? What if my pump broke? What if, what if, what if…
Last week, I wrote that “professors must intentionally take students out of their respective comfort zones, forcing REAL goal-directed social interactions among mixed groups. Additionally, students must be intentional in their pursuit of these connections.”
Well guess what? Professors must do the same thing for themselves.
If we only invest ourselves in what and who we already know, we stagnate as professionals, and we stagnate as people. Also, we have to intentionally pursue those opportunities to move beyond our comfort, or at worst, not turn them down when they are presented to us.
As you may have guessed by this point given the pictures, I went on the trip.
I went on the trip and everything went off without a hitch (medically). I had nothing to fear, “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
From start to finish, the trip was a blessing. This is just a small sample of the positives.
- I had the awe-inspiring experience of touring different camps in Auschwitz.
- I learned about Alan’s history working with ETBU International Education (more on this next week).
- I re-established old connections with the ETBU Theatre Department. As part of that, I gained a better appreciation and understanding for what Traci Ledford and others in their department do; she’s a coach, not of a sport, but of a physical performance. The skillset is amazingly similar to what a head coach in a sport might do during game preparations and on game days.
- We got to attend several tremendous productions, including our own production of All My Sons.
- We went to Jurassic Park.
- I accompanied Alan, as he met university presidents and school headmasters, helping set up future travel opportunities (the Kinesiology travel course to Poland happened in May 2011). We were even treated to a children’s play.
I would have missed out on all of this had I not overcome my concern. Just as we encourage those in physical training to go beyond comfort in order to have physical benefits and just as we must encourage our students to expand their horizons in order to grow, we must progressively overload ourselves to produce personal growth. “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Even in Poland.