one night, seven years ago, I made a difference

On Thursday, I attended a day-long meeting with about 30 fellow college health educators from all around New England, and at the end of it one of the new educators came up to me and say, “Hey, do you ever do talks on other campuses?”

“Sure I do.”

“Did you ever do one at University of Delaware?”

“Yeah, I’ve done a couple there. I went there for undergrad, too.”

“Oh my god. I was like, ‘Why do I recognize her?’ and I’m pretty sure it’s because I was at a talk you did in 2007 about the dual control model! I was the Wellspring Intern that year!”

“NO FUCKING WAY THAT’S AMAZING!!!”

“Yeah, I tell people about SIS and SES all the time now!!”

“*gasp* :-DDD “

University of Delaware has this amazing peer health education program that churns out future college health professionals by the dozen, and it’s always exciting to meet a fellow Wellspring alumna. But it was also thrilling to hear that a 90 minute talk I did seven years ago made enough of an impact that someone still remembers the ideas and talks about them with people they know!

There’s a lot of derision about the “one hour talk” or the “one-off program” in college health – like, you can’t really create change just by doing straight-up, single-session education. But I think, if the ideas are good enough and if the presentation is well-written and well-constructed, you CAN make a real impact in one hour. If you use the hour effectively, the difference can last for… well, at least seven years, apparently!

And in a job that can be exhausting sometimes, I can’t begin to tell you how renewing it feels to hear that a single evening of your life is still resonating positively through someone else’s life, seven years later. If someone – even just one person – from each of the campus talks I’ve done in the intervening seven years is out there telling people about the dual control model, about responsive desire, about arousal nonconcordance… well.

Culture-level change is glacially slow. But when a moment like this happens, I feel like I really am making a difference.