Here’s a fact that I was reminded of yesterday: If you wear W&M gear, your world becomes smaller.
Earlier this year I reported how I was with a friend studying for the LSAT in Reston, VA. We took a break to grab a coffee and were heralded by the businessman behind us, whose daughter graduated from W&M some years past. I was wearing a W&M baseball cap. We got to talking, and he discussed how much he loved W&M through his daughter’s time there. In the end, we both got coffees and business cards. “If you ever need anything, you don’t ever hesitate to let me know.”
W&M’ers love airports. That’s a fact. With the highest study abroad rate for any public doctoral-granting university in the US, you can bet that if you’re going to encounter W&M people anywhere, it’s while traveling.
Two years ago, I was traveling with Findlay Parke ’11 to go and spend some of the summer on a dude ranch out in Wyoming with his family. I was wearing my W&M hat and we heard a random “Go Tribe” shouted at us from behind us in the boarding line. Another W&M fan, and another conversation.
Two days later, we were seated at a table at a ranch in the middle of Saddlestring, Wyoming. I had the hat on and it turned out the man sitting across from us at the table with his family was an alumni. That made the conversation way more exciting.
This past fall, I was traveling to London with my parents and spied across the boarding gate a W&M student wearing his freshman class t-shirt that all students are given during orientation. So, I went up and introduced myself. It turns out that particular student was heading to Beijing for the semester – we talked about W&M and got to know one another. His shirt, which said Raise the Green and Gold, did just that in the airport that day.
Last week in London’s Heathrow International Airport, Hayley Rushing ’11, a fellow W&M alumni and Scotland graduate student ran into a member of the Class of 2014 who was headed off to study abroad at W&M’s Oxford University program. They chatted and shared their love for W&M.
I found this out on Twitter. News of little W&M moments spreads quickly. People get excited.
Yesterday I was flying from DC, through London, back to Scotland for the spring term at Edinburgh. I hadn’t been wearing it at all previously but for some reason I took my W&M hat out of my backpack and threw it on my head. Bad post-flight-have-not-showered-hair-situation or something. I have a thing I do now: whenever I’m walking through an airport, I put on my W&M hat. I throw it in my backpack before I leave the house. Call it previous experience.
Keep this in mind: my layover was only 40 minutes long.
I was walking through Terminal 5 headed to my gate when all of the sudden I hear my name, turn around, and have Moey Fox ’13 run into my arms. Moey was headed off to Florence, Italy, to study abroad for the semester. Now I have a standing invitation to Florence I may have to take up. We chatted a bit and I thought to myself, what a small world this is.
Well—it got even smaller.
When I arrived at my gate I was sitting on the ground charging my UK phone when I heard my name called again. I looked up and found old friend Kira Allman ’10 standing above me. I jumped up and collected my second hug and smile from my time in Heathrow—who is that lucky during layovers and jetlags? Kira was traveling with her boyfriend, both of them graduate students at Oxford University, on their way to Geneva where he was presenting at a conference. Her gate was right next to mine. We made plans for me to visit Oxford in the Spring. Plans I intend to keep.
4 minutes. 3 people I knew. 2 W&M moments. 1 over-whelming sense of wow.
Moral: Don’t just love W&M, or remember it—wear your affection on your sleeve. Or your head. Or anywhere. Green and gold are a handsome combination. Even if it’s just a hat you keep in your backpack, throw it on from time to time.
This place is incredible. It binds people with a sense of community that stretches beyond Williamsburg and reaches its fingers across the globe. Spread the word. The smallest of gestures – like wearing a hat – can introduce you to new faces, earn you coffees, connections and conversations, or reunite you with some very old friends in some very odd places.
Do yourself a favor: http://wm.bncollege.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SubcategoryView?catalogId=10001&storeId=17554&categoryId=40038&parentCatId=40006&topCatId=40000&langId=-1