The tour guide
News Writer | Monday, September 16, 2013
The coming weeks are big weeks for me. They’re the culmination of much wishing, waiting, planning and practicing for what feels like my whole life. Next week, I will probably become a Notre Dame tour guide.
My tour guide status is probable because, although I’m officially trained and have an official looking name-tag on file, I haven’t officially been scheduled to give a Notre Dame tour. I have however, become unofficially quite nervous about my looming first attempt. It’s like that feeling you get at halftime when Notre Dame’s losing to Purdue – you’re pretty sure it will all work out, but there’s always that chance it wasn’t meant to be.
I’m not entirely sure what about herding confused high schoolers and worried parents around unfamiliar grounds particularly appeals to me. It’s certainly not the walking backwards or being exposed to the elements. My mom asserts that it has everything to do with my Southern heritage. Since I couldn’t join a sorority, she reasons, I settled for the Frosh-O and Admissions staffs – the closest to rush chair I’ll ever come.
It may have something to do with my love of talking and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love talking about herself? (Just me? Oh. Oops.) Admissions counselors stress during training that personal experiences add a priceless authenticity and a unique flavor to every tour, but it’s definitely more than that.
A tour guide has to become an everyman, in the sense that her experiences have to extend beyond herself. Her knowledge must relate and appeal to hundreds of the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed youngsters who traipse up the Main Building stairs in blissful ignorance, ready for a glimpse into the real life of a Notre Dame student.
That’s a daunting concept. As students at this remarkable University, we know that Notre Dame is one of a kind. But it’s true too that each so-called Notre Dame experience is also one of a kind, not to mention the fact that most visitors cite something indescribable about campus that draws them in. While it’s an honor to represent that legendary history, how can a tour guide do justice to it all?
The key will be not so much doing it justice with words as it will be channeling that indescribable feeling and representing to the best of my ability, what it’s all about. It’s showing my undying passion for this incredible place, a passion that made me inexplicably burst into tears when I turned onto St. Joseph’s Drive and laid eyes on Breen-Phillips Hall for the first time this semester. That’s not a feeling I can justify. It just is. And that’s what I hope my future tour-takers will see. Notre Dame isn’t a place that needs justification. It is what it is and that’s so much better than enough.