Monthly Archives: April 2013

Experiential Education

If I ever become a famous author and have aspiring writers ask me for advice, I’d tell them this: DO THINGS!

That’s not the only thing I would tell them.  And, to be fair, I would tell anyone that.  But writers especially: I know you like your books and your pen, Lord knows I do too, but every once in a while put them down and go out and participate.

Here’s how I participated this week:

I don’t know what you know about Hindu–I know next to nothing and knew even less yesterday–but they have a spring festival called Holi.  According to Wikipedia, it’s celebrated because of a really cool story where a man got arrogant and wanted everyone to worship him instead of the gods, and he almost killed his son because he refused to do so but the gods protected him.

(Disclaimer: Like I said, I knew even less yesterday.  I’m having a meal with a friend later and I might learn a little more.  One thing I’d probably do over again…nevermind.  Moving on.)

ANYWAY…here at UNC, we do something we call Holi Moli.  It’s a little bit different, I believe.  People buy tickets to get bags of colored powder, and then we all get on a huge tarp and throw them at each other.  Also, we get sprayed with water some.

It wasn’t at all as I expected.  I expected there to be fewer people, and for everyone to be running around in some game akin to Tag.  Instead, there wasn’t a whole lot of room to move.  There was music, but I couldn’t hear it very well.  And you can tell the difference between the people who are just there to do something and the people who are performing a ritual.  One of my friends, who was born in India (the one I’m eating with later, fyi), rubbed her red what-used-to-be-powder-but-was-now-wet on my cheeks.  I pulled back a little because I wasn’t sure what was going on.  When I figured out that she wasn’t messing with me but this is actually something you do, I thought it was pretty cool.

Another thing we have at UNC is this requirement, an “EE.”  It stands for Experiential Education.  Study Abroad counts, select internships count, “service learning” classes count.  And while, on the one hand, I understand why that have to make this mandatory, on the other, I find it kind of ridiculous.  My entire college education has been experiential.  I’ve done things I would never have done before.  I worked on the newspaper.  I handled a nametag table and then got to meet an award winning author at a reception.  I’ve spoken to writers about their work and…

And honestly, I want to do a lot more.

So if you want to be a writer, experience things.  If you don’t want to be a writer, experience things.  Don’t ever let fear or self-doubt keep you from trying something you really want to try.  And if there’s something you’re not sure about trying but a friend is going…(disclaimer: IF IT ISN’T DANGEROUS, ILLEGAL, OR IMMORAL)…why not try that too?

When I leave here in a year (or so), I want more than just a degree to say I’ve changed.  I want the experiences I know have affected me.

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