Struggle BussingAugust 20, 2011 11:47 pm Leave your thoughts
Goodbye to the bus! I will miss you all. Here are my final thoughts.
Last night at our DAASV Panel, Devo asked the panelist if they had one green energy slogan for the future. I had no hesitation in what slogan I would support: “Struggle Bussing.” This summer taught me over and over again that if you aren’t struggling, you aren’t trying hard enough to learn something new. The bus taught me to take risks, embrace the struggle, and learn from failure and success.
When I say struggle, I am not referring to our living conditions. Thanks to Meeglies’ carpentry, Sarah’s painting, and Joe’s interior decorating, our bus is quite plush. Matt and Jules’ gave themselves a crash course on solar panels to provide us with electricity for lights and refrigeration. Joey and Erik kept our engine purring on veg throughout the summer. Jen was the faithful mother who woke us up each morning. Morgan and Devo played the role of our environmental conscience. Hannah was always game to walk with me for miles to find coffee. And Garz, as you can imagine, kept the bus sane with his wit and cheeky smile. Overall, life was good.
Struggle Bussing refers to the times we found ourselves stuck between a rock and hard place. Sometimes, it was the bus that was in this position, such as the time we stalled in a turning lane with traffic on both sides. Other times it was our crew that was in this position. Do we finish bus maintenance and cancel an event or bank on the assumption that the fuel filter lasts a couple extra miles? When making a bus decision, it is rare that all 13 people are happy with the choice (unless the choice involves food). Countless times this summer I did not know the right thing to do, but I knew it was better to make a decision and keep moving forward than to leave a matter unsettled.
The first rock/ hard place we encountered was back in the fall. Just weeks after starting to plan our summer tour, we unexpectedly received the news that last year’s bus needed over $20,000 of repair and still then could not be completely reliable to hold out the summer. Do we raise the money and count on professionals to fix the bus and hope that the bus lasts the summer? Or do we take the risk of searching for a new bus and converting it in time? Despite all of our uncertainty, our crew’s enthusiasm made it clear… we wanted a struggle. And at 4 am on June 19th, our newly donated bus (thanks Greyhound!) pulled out of Hanover filled with some mighty sleepy, yet triumphant bussers.
Once we hit the road, each day brought its own adventures and lessons. I found that you could never eat too many frozen blueberries. We learned to band-aid some bus boo-boos and accept that others we could only laugh about. It turns out that curtains work perfectly blankets. Some people really really don’t like country music. Hanging plants make the bus feel more like a home (but don’t water them too much or the water sloshes out of the planters and gets all over the bus). And if you go running in the evening, make sure you pay attention and know how to get back so you don’t get lost in the dark.
The best part of the trip… meeting people from all corners of the country, especially alumni. The warmth and generosity that alumni shared with us changed the way I thought about my Dartmouth community. I feel like I am part of something so much bigger than the 4,000 students on campus. The alumni are incredible people with the same energy and vitality that I see everyday in my peers on campus. This excitement for learning and more importantly, for struggling, is rampant around the country. Every solar panel and compost bin is a result of people driving the struggle bus and smiling while they do it.