“OCHO” is the nickname of the floor that I’ve lived on for the past two years as an RA. My first set of residents here coined it, and it became our own brand that I perpetuated in all floor memos, advertisements, meetings and discussions.
Though the OCHO is just the 8th floor of an underclassman dorm that’s been around for quite a long time, its inhabitants see it as an idea, a lifestyle, an experience, and a journey–far more meaningful than just a living space.
My time on the OCHO nears the end, 3 more weeks. Next year, I’ll be the RA at the Italian House, a brownstone on the other side of campus. However, with this piece of my college experience nearing its end, it’s relevant to comment on how it has changed me, enhanced me, bettered me, challenged me.
I always tell my residents that I wish I could be the person I am as an RA all day, every day. As an RA I look at life through a Lockean lens; people are generally good. I trust them, I believe in them, I am proud of them, I hope for them.
My residents are all people. One of them might be the person that bumped into me and didn’t say sorry or who cut me in line or who spilt their drink on me. With them, though, I give the benefit of the doubt. In reflection, it’s come to me that we should always give people the benefit of the doubt, because it’s likely that they have been someone’s resident, right?
Looking at residents as a sampling of people makes life promising. I want to try to be as excited about the next 53 people I meet as I was when I met my residents in September. With my residents I am constantly asking questions to try to learn more, digging deeper to try to understand more, listening, listening, listening, and wondering what each would do to amaze me.
And, wow, they have amazed me. During my two years on the OCHO I’ve had a Mr. BU, a CGS President, two record holding swimmers, an avid volunteer, and the list goes on. I cannot read BU’s Daily Free Press without seeing one of their names for an achievement. I hang these pieces of news on a hypothetical fridge with pride.
Their diversity inspires me as well. I’ve had residents from Taiwan, Nigeria, Curacao, France and Indonesia. As an international communication Master’s candidate, it’s incredible to have these students a few doors down to teach me first-hand about their culture. Since we’ve built a community of trust on the OCHO, we can have candid conversations about home. In my eyes, there is no better way to understand a culture than through candid conversations, which happens only with trust.
Being an RA is saddled on trust. If there’s one thing I hope for in my position it’s that my residents trust me, and if there’s one thing that I can take from this position, it’s how to build trust with people. People need to trust.
I am the person who is there when they need to cry, get sick, become really, really scared for the future, lose a friend, find a significant other, lose their darn key, move in, and move out. I could lock myself in my room, and avoid all of these situations, but I love these situations. These are the memorable moments that explain why I live in a freshman dorm. While their break-ups or exams seem trivial, I learn from them. I relish the idea that this whole group of people believes in me enough to guide them through this new experience.
And with this I’ve learned to never, ever be condescending, and always look for how you can learn from someone rather than how you can outdo them. You’ll be the best if you use every opportunity to learn.
People in my life wonder why I find such joy out of living in a box in an underclassman high rise as a 23-year-old, but I hope that my reflection sheds light on why moving out will be tough. For me I’ve learned more about life and being a good person in my little box room than I could have in any other position, and I hope that my career in PR will challenge me in this same way.
So in just 3 weeks I will lock the door to my OCHO haven, but the OCHO passion will stick with me always.
For the 106 students who I have met here and the 25 others from my first RA position, thank you, good luck, and keep in touch with your old RA.