I gave my very first tour today. There were no other guides tag teaming with me, or shadowing me. I was entirely alone. In essence, it was up to me to sell William and Mary to these 12 students and parents who were interested in seeing the campus. I had 75 minutes to give them a run down on academic details, residence life, and campus activities, while still showing them a personable aspect of the campus. I was terrified.
I shouldn’t have worried. Sure, I stumbled over my words a few times and ran into a brick or two. I definitely tripped over a curb, and might have neglected a few details about W&M. Navigating the group through noisy construction behind Swem, and trying to get into Wren as the events crew was putting up tents wasn’t easy either. Yet, as I walked the group through the Sunken Gardens, and around the Crim Dell I realized that giving a solo tour wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I had never quite experienced this feeling as I tag teamed or shadowed tours, but when you are walking backwards in front of prospective students, describing W&M, you realize how much the school means to you, why you came here, and why you love it so much that you want to bring other people here.
It is hard to put the College into words. William and Mary is not a school of facts and figures, nor is it a place that you can understand by reading a list of majors. It is a place where all of the substance comes from the people and the community around it. It is the students and faculty that make the College what it is, and no program/major/department that can change it. I believe that is why we have such a connection to our alumni, and why upperclassmen come out each year to welcome new students during Convocation. I believe that this focus on the students is why William and Mary has continued as a notable institution for so long.
I never thought that something as menial as giving my first solo tour would let me realize all of this, or maybe it is also just the fact that my freshman year is coming to a close soon. Either way, this tour guiding experience has let me realize just how much I love W&M.
Class of 2012