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 December 2006 / January 2007 • NIRSA news and information
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Linda Clauss
Leadership Notes

Smile ... and pass it on!

Happy holidays! The semester is finally winding down ... memories of research papers and exams will soon give way to the excitement of the holidays and time with family and friends. I love sharing stories, quotes and anecdotes, especially during the holiday season. One of my favorites shows how a single smile can make a difference in the lives of numerous people.



By Barbara Hauck

She smiled at a sorrowful stranger.

The smile seemed to make him feel better.

He remembered past kindnesses of a friend

and wrote him a thank-you letter.

The friend was so pleased with the thank-you

that he left a large tip after lunch.

The waitress, surprised by the size of the tip,

bet the whole thing on a hunch.

The next day she picked up her winnings,

and gave part to a man on the street.

The man on the street was grateful;

For two days he’d had nothing to eat.

After he finished his dinner,

he left for his small dingy room.

(He didn’t know at that moment

that he might be facing his doom.)

On the way he picked up a shivering puppy

and took him home to get warm.

The puppy was very grateful

to be in out of the storm.

That night the house caught on fire.

The puppy barked the alarm.

He barked ‘til he woke the whole household

and saved everybody from harm.

One of the boys that he rescued

grew up to be President.

All this because of a simple smile

that hadn’t cost a cent.

I remember my first NIRSA Conference in Cleveland, Ohio—rain, sleet, cold winds—where one smile made all the difference to me. I had never been to any NIRSA events, let alone an Annual Conference with thousands of new faces; I was excited and nervous, not really knowing what to expect. I attended the New Member Welcome where NIRSA Membership Director Mary Martin greeted me with a warm, welcoming smile and hug—along with a couple freebies, which as poor students we all love! Granted I still was a little unsure about NIRSA and why I was attending this conference—I was a sophomore studying journalism. But after talking with Mary I felt much more comfortable and like part of the family. To this day I am all smiles when I see Mary Martin and all the other wonderful NIRSA Members.

As I travel around to NIRSA conferences now, I think back on that first conference and I try to put myself in the shoes of those NIRSA newbies. Most of the students at Lead Ons have that same jittery feeling; a quick smile and hello may very well change their day, career path, or even outlook on life. I cannot think of a single time when someone at a NIRSA event has smiled at me or I have smiled at someone and that smile was not reciprocated.

The NIRSA family is full of smiles—at conferences, workshops, meetings, and even just meeting up with old friends for lunch. A simple smile on your face can make someone’s day. It’s contagious and can have a ripple effect beyond what you even imagined. The Student Leadership Team began with a goal back in June to collect donations for Make a Child Smile throughout the year, purchase toys at the Annual Conference, and then present those toys to the local children’s hospitals in Minneapolis. We had no idea how successful this would become! We have collected more than $2,425 to brighten the lives of children with life-threatening illnesses. So thank you to everyone who has donated to Make a Child Smile, and to everyone who continues to smile. Pass it on!

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