According to UrbanDictionary.com, “wotless” is “a word meaning to not care profoundly about anything, and just having a hell of a time not caring what anyone says or thinks of you.”
While it may appear that I’m only on vacation, my experience in Trinidad thus far has been a learning moment. On the way back from Maracas Beach the other day, down the windy road in a friend’s car, I thought about what I’ve seen and observed in the weeks I’ve been here.
On one hand, there is style of work. Going from department to department, speaking with people at UWI – St. Augustine, one can see how seriously people take their jobs. For one, student affairs professionals are much more formal compared to US colleagues. My friend and I had to rush around one of the malls to search for more office-worthy clothing; even so, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get by with my linen cropped pants.
Either way, I’ve still be able to make some good observations. For one, just like any university, UWI has its strengths and areas of opportunity. Budget woes translate too familiarly to departments and units here. However, people are making due with what they have. Staff members are busy, often changing gears from appointment to appointment.
That said, there exists some divisions and silos. While this fracturing can sometimes contribute to inefficiency, staff members recognize this and are working to slowly push for reorganization and alignment.
Like any good student affairs professionals, the people at UWI approach their jobs with enthusiasm and a genuine want to help students get the most out of the university experience. We’re in the midst of the 14th annual CTLPA conference, and after the first day, I’ve already gotten a better sense of how culture really affects students in higher education. One presentation presented preliminary findings between UWI – St. Augustine and the University of Louisville’s incoming class of students. Results from the questionnaires showed differences in students’ perceptions of themselves, as well as some differences in motivation for going to university. Overall, though, the bottom line is still how do student affairs professionals provide the best services and the best experiences for all students.
My internship partner and I are the first student affairs grad students to attend CTLPA conference, at least this is what we’ve been told. While we may have found this opportunity through a series of personal connections, it came about because we took the initiative to seek out international opportunities.
I’m happy because what we’re doing speaks to the notion that as professionals, we need to develop ourselves in order to help others grow. It’s about taking the time to step out of the “norm” and look around at what is happening in the world. It’s taking the time to challenge oneself by traveling to a country one may realize he or she really knows nothing about.
For me, it’s about loving what I do (and what I hope to do) yet simultaneously being the opposite of wotless. I care profoundly about what I do, and to an extent, I care about how others perceive me. I want them to perceive me as competent and responsible, caring and lively, motivated and willing to learn.
And in a sense, it’s about working really hard but having so much fun, y’all are none the wiser.
(In other related news… I’ll be back Stateside by this time next week. Odd.)