Slice of Life: Learning to appreciate through community.

This is not a feel-good change-of-heart story. I’m not seeking to renew your love for GW, and it’s not likely you will return phone calls from the GW Alumni Association asking you to interview a sweaty-palmed freshman just because you read this column.

But if I were ever to write a “Chicken Soup”-esque story about my time at GW, this would be it.

I suffered a seriously painful leg injury a few weeks back, and the time I’ve spent recovering gave me a new perspective on this school. In hobbling around on crutches for almost the past month, I’ve gained more of an appreciation for GW than I have in my past four years here.

It started with a faint “pop.” Bone against bone, as if miniature Vikings had descended upon my tibia and were grinding it up for dinner. Yum. Just a week before my senior spring break, I took the whole spring “break” idea a little too seriously playing a game of Ultimate Frisbee. My most vivid memory from the debacle is getting carried away in the ambulance golf cart while staring at the sunset over the Washington Monument, thinking, “Wow, I am so lucky to live here.” Then we hit a bump.

Looking back, there are few things in particular I can recall about that night. “Abismo de Pasión” re-runs, a Spanish sitcom, seemed to go on forever during the hours spent languishing in the hospital ER waiting room. I can also still hear the raspy breathing of the guy parked next to me in the X-ray room, with his middle finger hanging ever so daintily from the rest of his gnarled hand.

But these minor details aren’t what had the most lasting impression on me that night. I will never forget the immediate kindness I was shown – the friendly jeering from the ER guard, the lively conversation from the chatty nurse and the gigantic tub of original hummus my friends helped me finish while waiting for the test results.

In the weeks following the accident, life at GW was better than ever. Bureaucracy gone, professors swiftly pushed back my midterms, only sending e-mails with get well wishes and the occasional injury story to relate. Going to class as a second semester senior is never easy but going to class with a large black bionic brace is significantly more difficult. The first few times I was forced to linger and plead with my eyes for someone to hold open the heavy wooden doors to Funger Hall, I was pleasantly surprised when help actually came my way. All of a sudden, people I hadn’t spoken to in years made a point to ask how I was feeling.

It may not be the most uplifting prediction for me to make, but my point is that during your time here you will need something from the University beyond the occasional recommendation letter. And though we all have our doubts about the helpfulness of the University, I found that when that time actually came for me, GW was there to help – queue tuition jokes.

Even though I still retain my right to complain about our lackluster mascot, my experiences over the past few weeks have changed my outlook on the culture of the school’s community. All jokes aside, I think I will seriously consider giving a senior class gift during my last weeks at GW.

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