By Max Lynch (GSB’19), FSIC Student Leader.
Day 1 of the Changemaker Student Summit was spent settling into life at Northampton, and meeting all of the other conference participants. On arrival to a Northampton University residence hall, we were escorted to our rooms and told to reconvene at 6pm to head to a group socializing event. I was very impressed by what was to be my future home for the next 4 days. I was set up in a new single bedroom that had it’s own full bathroom. The room also had an energy-saving electricity system. Electricity ran to the room only when the room-key was in it’s holder, similar to some modern hotels. The whole residence hall was completely wheelchair accessible, outfitted with elevators and push-button doors. It was obvious that environmentally and disability conscious thought had gone into constructing the residence hall. Very progressive relative to Fordham residence halls!
At 6pm all Summit participants convened and then headed to a campus social space for networking. The night started off with awkward small talk, but soon evolved (with a little help from our friends Moët and Guinness) to full-fledged conversations about each person’s experienced inequalities and purpose for attending the Summit. I was enthralled by conversations about inequality in Polish higher education, Polish culture and language, and many other things Polish (there were 16 people from Poland at the Summit). I made a large effort to remember everyone’s names and pronunciations. This was very difficult because almost every name was a name that I had never seen or said before, but I think that this effort helped me throughout the rest of the Summit. The social event was a good introduction to the people that I would be working closely with throughout the rest of the Summit.
Day 1 of the Summit was short, but I was still able to learn a lot. One major skill that I learned was how to remember people’s names. As soon as I met someone new, I wrote down their name, how it is pronounced, and maybe something else about them like where they are from.
I then proceeded to repeat their names in conversation so that it became engrained in my memory. If I forgot someone’s name I could easily go back to my notes and be refreshed. I can’t express how useful this was to establishing meaningful relationships with people over the next few days. Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends and Influence People writes, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
After the social event we returned to the residence hall where many of us continued our conversations in a social lounge. Soon after I went to bed, as my body was still struggling with jetlag. I give day 1 a 10/10.