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It's that time of year again. RA training starts on Tuesday. This is my third- and last- year. It's a little odd looking back on the last three years and realizing I'm definitely no longer a "newbie." Here are the facts as I've lived them.

Growing up, any activity I was a part of- Girl Scouts, softball, volleyball, speech- the "returners" were the obnoxious kids who talked while the adult was talking and answered all questions with the "I've been here before and have really LIVED this life" (read: know-it-all) tone. I was one. I hated them when I wasn't. That was my experience with returners until my sophomore year here when I became an RA for the first time. I felt like such an outsider at first. I planned on going to training the first day exactly on time. I didn't want to be there early and have no one to talk to. I also knew I would NOT be late. So when I got to training, I put on my obligatory name tag, found my training binder and sat down. That was on August 3 (of 2009, if you're keeping track of years). Then I blinked a couple times and all of a sudden freshmen were moving in. I think I might have sighed once and then school started. August flies by for RAs. And the funny thing is, after blinking and sighing and breathing when I had the chance, I knew every RA on staff. I even made a few friends. Heck, for the first time in my college career, I knew administrators. Note the "s" at the end of the word. There is no better orientation into leadership at Millikin than RA training. I'm not sure this is allowed, but if you wanted to become an RA and didn't make it, I would highly suggest BEGGING Res Life to let you come to training. If you weren't ready before, you will be primed for whatever opportunities arise after. I learned so much about people in that month that I will never forget. Thank you, Res Life!

Now flash forward to 2010. Guys, I became a returner! And do you know what I didn't do once? I didn't act like a know-it-all. And none of the other  returners did, either. Then I looked back on my first year as an RA. Nobody made me feel like a newcomer even though they didn't know me. It sounds REALLY lame, but being an RA is like being in the coolest Girl/Boy Scout troop you could ever join. The returners all remember being newbies. And besides, being a returner does not make you an expert. If there is one thing I figured out in RA Training v.2, it's that no amount of training will equip you with the proper response for every situation. This would be the prompt for Molly's Training 2010 catchphrase "Shades of Grey." What training does equip you with is a lot of possible scenarios and responses for you to mold and morph into whatever really, really grey situation in which you might find yourself. That's what we all really need. If they wanted perfection, they would replace RAs with robots. Thankfully they haven't done this yet. I happen to really love my job and would hate to lose it to Bicentennial Man. Anyway. The point. The point is that no one, young/old, newbie/returner, male/female, black/white/grey, NO ONE is prepared for everything. And no one is too cool or too experienced to not get something great out of training.

That pretty much brings us up to date. It is 4 minutes 'til midnight on a Saturday night. Yes, I blog on Saturday nights. But this is relevant because, after four minutes, I will be three days from starting RA Training v.3, my last training. While I have a lot of guesses about what is coming, I still have no idea what Res Life will throw at me! We have a brand new pro staff member and something like 12 fresh and friendly RA newbies. They will bring something I cannot even imagine to training. I have no idea where Eric (new pro staffer) will lead sessions. I don't know what Dana Bjorge (newbie) will ask me at lunch because I'm a returner and should be able to help her out. I don't know how Zach Minder (newbie) will facilitate a mediation session or how Chet Lord-Remmert (newbie) will react in Behind Close Doors- the session where new RAs get to "practice" crises. I just don't know anything. What's even better is that I don't know where my fellow returners will take us, either. It's what makes RA training so great. Remember, I really advise you go through RA training. As I said before, if you have the opportunity to ask to go through training, do it! It's worth it.

Well, it's now 12:06. Three days to go! And I just wrote you almost 1000 words. That's almost an essay. I'll leave you with a little insight into the future. I'm going to try very hard to write during training. We train A LOT. But I want you all to see a little of what we do at RA training. I'm going to try to fit you in. But if you don't hear from me for a while, expect a post before First Week. I have a little bit of  "returner" knowledge for first time packers. When you're as bad at packing as I am, you learn a few things. Until then, dear readers!

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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL