Why I Give Tours

One of my favorite questions on tours is often asked in jest: “What made you wanna become a tour guide?” often followed with a sneer and, “besides the paycheck of course.” Well, brace yourselves: we don’t get paid. We volunteer. One of the cool things about William and Mary students is that we’re so passionate about our school that the demand to give tours exceeds the need for tour guides. We don’t need any kind of additional incentive to ramble on for an hour and a half about how much we love it here.

That’s a pretty basic answer to their question I suppose, but the answer is really so much more than that. My first thought always is of the day I received my acceptance email, immediately followed, of course, by screaming, jumping, seven telephone calls (each with more screaming) and one unconfirmed report of dancing. That was a year ago today. And the reason I give tours now is because I’m still excited to be here.

While I no longer break out into spontaneous screams of pure joy, these words haven’t lost their power on me: I go to The College of William and Mary. I go to the school of Thomas Jefferson, ‘the Alma Mater of the Nation’. I go to the school of my personal hero, Jon Stewart. Every day I surround myself with the future leaders of our country, and find humility and inspiration to count myself among them. And better yet, in only a few months, I consider them some of my best friends.

I go to a school where early morning coffee runs involve running into early 18th century plantation owners and afternoons include free musical performances on the beautiful Sadler Terrace. My alma mater hosts John King to interview our new Chancellor, Robert Gates, and gives him a special invitation from one of our secret societies. My bad days end in five minutes, either the time it takes me to get to the Sunken Garden, or Matoaka Amphitheater, to just sit, relax, and appreciate the glory of our historic campus. And my good days start early in the morning, with a bike ride to Jamestown Beach or a workout at our recently renovated Rec Center.

I was trying to describe what made William and Mary special on a recent tour when twenty nearby students suddenly started pretending to be animals. I still can’t figure out why they did that, but I think it answered the question pretty well, and led to a good transition to the Crim Dell story.

So, why do I give tours? Because I go to a university unlike any other in the world. Because within a week of arriving on campus in the fall, I was confident I was at home. And because I can look back at just one year here, at the students on my tour, and know that right there, standing in their shoes, I made the best decision of my life. It’s pretty fun to relive that experience once a week.

To those students who just received their email, congratulations. Savor the moment; never forget it. You’ll think back on it a year from now, when a prospective student asks you why you decided to go to school here, or what makes this place special. You can hold onto that excitement — that feeling of endless opportunity — forever, and let it drive everything you do here. You’ll feel it, like I do, every time I tell someone where home is: at The College of William and Mary.

Alex Greenspan
Class of 2015

Categories: Admission, Campus Life, Community Engagement & Service, Student Clubs & Orgs
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