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Sharing the magic

Brian Hartnett | Tuesday, September 25, 2012


“And there’s a magic in the sound of their name …”

Okay, this verse may be part of “Here Come the Irish,” an unconventional game day pump-up tune, but it expresses what I believe to be a certain truth: Notre Dame is a magical place. From its unique landmarks to its century-old traditions to the numerous stories of perseverance involving its sons and daughters, Notre Dame simply possesses a mystique rivaled by few other universities.

Yet, even in this Catholic Disneyland, there is a dark side to paradise. Admittedly, factors like occasionally overwhelming academics, dismal weather and awkward gender relations have clouded my view of the Golden Dome at times. In a shocking twist, I’ll admit I’m not a legacy, nor did I grow up rooting for the Irish every Saturday. Yet, some time in the middle of my angst-ridden college search, I became enchanted by the University and knew it was the place where I wanted to spend my college years.

In the more than two years that have elapsed since that point, I’ve found that it’s more enjoyable for me to see how Notre Dame’s affected all those closest to me than it is to see how it’s affected myself. Nowhere was this effect more apparent than during my family’s recent visit from its New Jersey home to my new home here in South Bend. In their short time on campus, I was thrust into the role of tour guide, acquiescing to my parent’s requests to show them major campus sights like the Golden Dome, Basilica and “Touchdown Jesus.” Although I didn’t enjoy posing for pictures at these landmarks, I was genuinely surprised to see how many people, including my family members, were thrilled to be at the same sights I pass by daily. 

My parents cited praise for everything from the dining hall food to the classrooms, while one of my brothers found it amazing that I could live on the same campus as many of his football heroes (who go to class, no less) and another brother was simply surprised that I could possibly sleep on a loft. 

Last weekend held even more significance for me because I had the opportunity to also welcome my grandmother to campus. As thrilled as I was to see her, I feared she wouldn’t enjoy Notre Dame (she’s confessed that she’s known too many zealous Notre Dame fans to ever become one). Yet, she was struck by the Midwestern friendliness of the school and so awed by the presentation of football weekend that she’s already planning a visit for next season.

It’s experiences like these that truly allow me to see how fortunate I am to be at Notre Dame. Sure, it will never be perfect, but the minor gripes I have are so puny compared to the great benefits it offers.