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December 3, 2013

How Do You Spell Channukkahh?

My family's Channukiah! My sister Sam took this picture. Yay Sam!

My family’s Channukiah! My sister Sam took this picture. Yay Sam!

First, let us all direct our collective attention to this musical masterpiece.

Done? Okay great. Feel free to leave it on repeat.

The LeeVees mangum opus “How Do You Spell Channukkahh” is a tribute to flying by the seat of one’s pants. Nobody really knows how to spell Hanukah. Or Hannukah. Whatever. But sometimes, you just have to do things you don’t know how to do.

For your consideration, a list of things I’ve done at Clark even though I kind of had no idea what I was doing:

  1. Run a newspaper.
  2. Create and manage a program for high school students to improve their college applications.
  3. Develop a research project on Hebrew print culture.
  4. Write really long research papers.
  5. Play in a musical.
  6. Live with people.

Etc., etc. I sort of have a blog post about this already, but it’s become even more obvious to me that college has been an adventure in making stuff up. And there’s a fine line between making stuff up and BSing, which I’d like to sort of talk about.

BSing is what happens when you try to make stuff up but you don’t really put your heart into making stuff up. When that happens with a big, important project (like running a newspaper), the whole thing will kind of collapse (or you’ll quit under the volume of work that’s required of you). But if you’re willing to make things up and learn on the job, then you’ll learn pretty well.

I got a question on a tour about a month ago that I had never gotten before (more about those kinds of questions here). The person asked how Clark has taught me problem-solving skills. My instinct was that it hadn’t, because problem-solving is something that you have to figure out on your own. So Clark has given me a bunch of opportunities to solve problems and make stuff up (see above). That’s kind of scary, but it’s also an exciting set of challenges.

Because I’m studying abroad next semester (living in England is another example of a thing I’m going to have to learn how to do), I’m handing over the reins of the newspaper to Sarah, our News Editor. She’s going to be great. But she asked me the other day what it is I do on a weekly basis so that she knows what she’s responsible for.

And I had no idea what to tell her. The best answer I could give was “Wait for a crisis to happen and fix it.” Because that’s most of my responsibility. Just fixing stuff that falls apart. I’m not very good at it yet, but I’m working on it. Making it up as I go.

Because collaboration is so important, you have to trust them to solve these problems with you. I’m trusting Sarah to handle the newspaper for the next four months (she’s going to be great!), and I’ve been tapping into all of my friends here at Clark to give me help and input in solving problems. Because I know that I can’t do so much of this stuff alone.

I wrote a group paper this week. We had to do a lot of different stuff for this project, and it fell on me to write our paper. I asked each person in the group to send me a couple of paragraphs of their thoughts so that I could integrate their ideas into my Super Paper. Even though I had these little reflections to work with, it was hard to represent everyone’s ideas in one paper, because I couldn’t really know exactly how everyone felt at an important, analytical level.

So instead of making it up, I wrote the paper about how it’s really hard to write this kind of paper and pretend to know things that you don’t, and that I shouldn’t pretend that everyone thinks the same way. Even though you sometimes have to do things you don’t know how to do, the most important thing is to realize that you have no idea what’s going on.

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