I have spent a lot of time these last months thinking back to Aug. 24, 1990. That’s the day my parents dropped me off at college, an 18- hour drive from the three-stoplight, 12-paved-road small town where I grew up.
I was so excited to be there. I was ready to make new friends, learn about big ideas and explore the world. I remember wanting to rush off to whatever was scheduled at 9 a.m. that last morning before they left, and I was literally jumping up and down on my toes as I rushed through the goodbyes. With hugs, I-love-yous and reminders to call any time, I turned and bolted, never once looking back.
Now as my own 18-year-old twin daughters prepare to head off to post-secondary this fall, I find myself wishing I had paused to turn around and give my parents one last wave. How hard would that have been? But 18-year-old me was already looking to the future, and I couldn’t be slowed down by thoughts of home. That’s the beauty of going to college, isn’t it? That excitement to head into the unknown, to embrace all the newness and learning and growth waiting there – that is such a powerful call.
One thing that is providing me with some comfort as I get ready for my girls to head out on their new adventure is knowing that the excitement to learn new things can continue throughout life. Learning can certainly start at college – but it doesn’t have to end there. And as we put together this issue of Wider Horizons, focused on stories of the buffalo and all it provides to our communities, I had the chance to reflect on that truth. Since starting this job the same September my daughters started Grade 1, I have been encouraged to learn and understand what it means to live, work and grow on Blackfoot Territory. Like so many in my generation, this education was definitely lacking in my earlier years and I had – and have – a lot to learn.
But each lesson builds on the last, year after year, and wonderful teachers have been patient with me every step of the way. I think the takeaway is that learning never has to end, and I am grateful to have the opportunity. I would totally be lying to myself if I said I wasn’t feeling emotional about my soon-to-be-empty nest, though. My heart is heavy knowing my girls will probably not remember to turn around for one last wave at the end of August either. But knowing they are just starting out on a journey of lifelong learning is so exciting. And I am so very pleased they are heading off with a far better understanding of the land where they were born and raised than I had. I hope they carry the beauty and bounty of Blackfoot Territory with them in their hearts as they head out into this next great adventure. I hope they know this place is always home (and that they can call anytime).
As always, thanks for reading this issue. If you have any stories of lifelong learning you’ve done – or tips and tricks for getting through an empty nest – email me anytime at WHMagazine@lethbridgecollege.ca.
We hope you enjoy this special issue.
Lisa Kozleski, Editor