Last month, I traveled to Fargo to watch the MSU Bobcats play the North Dakota State Bison in a playoff game. The outcome of that game was much less impactful than what I experienced as a “stranger” in a stadium full of people fully expecting to win their 35th consecutive game.
Bobcat fans were greeted with incredible graciousness from the Fargo fans. We were thanked for being there and folks were genuinely curious about us as individuals as well as our team. Fans donning blue and gold were welcomed under green and yellow striped tents with hardy handshakes, warm greetings, and cold drinks. There was no hostility to be found. In fact, we experienced the opposite; hospitality was the name of the game.
Each time I saw a Cat fan, most of them also LMT grads, we commented on how sincerely kind everyone was and that we felt like very welcomed strangers. This was a truly gracious space.
I had a lot of hope for that game, and when the loss was obvious, I found hope again in humanity. Even in a clear and crushing defeat, North Dakota fans extended gratitude and kindness on our way out the door. I questioned where I would ever experience such sportsmanship again and pledged to do and be better next fall when my team hosts guests.
Now, I pledge to do and be better in this 2020 election year that is likely to bring us many opportunities to sharpen our skills in listening and learning.
Whatever our team, whatever our “side”…we can still look beyond our differences and extend kindness to each other. We can get curious. We can listen with interest, listen with the intent to understand, listen to learn. We can invite the stranger and seek to focus on our similarities over our differences.
This is what I will try to practice every day in 2020. Will you join me?
My very best,
Chantel McCormick Schieffer
President & CEO
Class of 2010, Masters 2019