My time as Pooba

Megan Schiferl

Megan SchiferlJuice Editor

The first time I heard the phrase “Grand Pooba” as a lowly and uninformed freshman, my immediate thought was, “Grand Pooba … is that something you can catch?”

Strangely enough, less than a year later I had received the position within the University Program Council as the Pooba for Hobo Days. For those of you who are confused right now, the Grand Pooba of Hobo Days is the person in charge of the event. This title has some sort of historical reference and causes looks of confusion whenever uttered.

The position was at many times challenging and stressful, but I would not trade my time spent as Pooba for anything. The experience was one of the most taxing times of my collegiate experience and life, but I was surrounded by a great group of people that gave me all the support a girl could ask for. Now that it is hobo season once again, I can look back fondly on what I learned from that experience.

1. Things will go wrong.

No matter how much you strategize, problem-shoot or brainstorm, you will not catch all the details of an event or project. You will always have late entries or missing volunteers. Humans are cantankerous creatures and unfortunately, when working with them in a large group, you cannot account for everyone’s actions. The best thing you can do is to attempt to cover as many details as possible, brew a pot of coffee and bunker down. As an event approaches the parts that received a little less love will be more apparent. You can get stressed out by the fact that things will go wrong, or you can…

2. Be Flexible.

Since something will always go wrong, the key to remaining sane is flexibility. Last year, as Hobo Day approached, the University Program Office, which is the headquarters of the event, the key phrase became “Don’t worry about it.” Generally this was in reference to a deadline approaching too quickly, an exam I had not studied for or a batch of illegal t-shirts I was attempting to keep off the black market (speaking of which, UPC has the official t-shirts for sale right now in their office). I had to learn that things might not happen on my exact time line or in the exact way I wanted them too. Sometimes…

3. Something’s got to give.

(Like my anatomy grade.) Unfortunately I believed it would be a good idea to take human anatomy the same semester I was planning the “largest one-day event of the Dakotas.” I managed to survive that class and lab without dropping it, but I was not a happy camper about my grade. The entire experience taught me that people are most important to me. Working with the amount of people I did planning Hobo Day showed me I had the capacity to be excited about something and…

4. Learn new skills.

Going into Hobo Day Week, I had no idea what to expect. Truth be told, I had never even attended Hobo Day. Rock climbing in the Palisades won me over the previous year, which was nowhere near a football stadium or hobo bedecked fans. To make up for my lack of hobo knowledge, I spent hours pouring over old yearbook and newspaper articles, published in the best newspaper on campus, The Collegian. I learned about the event and the traditions, but most importantly I learned how to be diplomatic while dealing with these traditions. Traditions are there for a reason, and you must be delicate when dealing with something people are dedicated and emotionally attached to.

As I look forward to grad school and everything else life has to offer me, I know I won’t be able to forget the “Hobo-esque” lessons from my sophomore year. The best lesson I learned was no matter how stressful things might get or how many things go wrong, you have to keep moving forward, because, as the movie Up in the Air so eloquently put it, “The slower we move, the faster we die.” So keep moving this Hobo season, and squeeze every possible experience you can out of the day.