As soon as I saw the call on my cellphone was from our college’s chief of staff, I figured an otherwise quiet Friday before Commencement would soon change. When she started the conversation with “We have a problem …,” that confirmed it. But it’s what she said next that surprised me.
“Would you be interested in interviewing Naomi Wolf on WRVO?” Seriously? The best-selling author and activist coming to speak at Oswego’s Commencement? On our popular and award-winning public radio station? Um, seriously?
Apparently a scheduling wrinkle meant no reporters were available for the in-studio interview with Wolf late on a Friday, so the call to the bullpen went to a recovering journalist. So I’d have to drop a few things to do some in-depth research on Wolf so I didn’t sound like a moron. But seriously … how could I possibly say no?
Despite my rustiness on a mic and occasionally rambling questions, the interview came out pretty well. Listen for yourself! Wolf is an engaging and eloquent guest, which made my job easy. A couple times she said “that’s a very good question,” although she’s enough of a pro she may well use that to make the interviewer feel good while composing her thoughts. Still, I hoped my questions about what made her write The Beauty Myth, what changes the landmark work may have brought, her transition to writing about civil liberties and freedom, and what advice she had for graduates contributed to the conversation.
But moreover, it reminded me of the unpredictability — sometimes wonderful — of working at a college. I’ve talked to a lot of graduating students in the past week who discussed how much they’ll miss it. As one said, this is her last chance to live among people all her own age and in similar stages of life. Every day is a new adventure for them … and for us!
Where else can you find yourselves making new friends, learning new things every day? That applies to students and, to a certain degree, any of us working on campuses. My favorite metaphor for a college is a giant laboratory where all of us are discovering and trying new things. Not every day involves unexpectedly interviewing a brilliant bestselling author, but the promise of some serendipitous development always exists in a place of learning.