Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On the Best Advice I've Ever Gotten

On of the best pieces of life advice I've ever gotten was delivered to be as part of a speech the summer when I was 13 years old.  It was my first summer at the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth at their site at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA.  Our then site director, Bret, was discussing the CTY Honor Code.

The Honor Code was kind of all-encompassing -- be tolerant, do your work, go to class, don't lie, don't break stuff, don't have sex anywhere at any time because you're all 16 or younger and we don't want to explain that to your parents, etc.

But the good advice that I got came when Bret said he wasn't going to read us the whole Honor Code because it boiled down to one thing: "Don't. Be. A. Jerk."  Before you do something, think about if it's something a jerk would do, and if it is, don't do it.  All the other rules, he felt, naturally followed from this one.  Making trouble for the RAs meant being a jerk to the RAs.  Not respecting someone's religion, sexuality, etc, meant you were being a jerk to them.  Not going to class made you a jerk to your instructor.

And it makes sense.  This rule is kind of fundamental -- just don't be a jerk.  We usually know what makes us a jerk to somebody, and it's a good, simple rule to follow.

I'm reminded of this because of a struggle my friends who are still at CTY are going through, trying to hold on to some traditions that the administration is trying to ban.  My heart goes out to them.

Wishing you a three-tiered layer cake of Safety, Learning, and Fun
Rachel Leigh

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