We talk about it. We know it’s there. Alumni warn us of its powers and yet, here we remain: within the all-encompassing Vanguard University bubble. Can it be popped?
University life is four years of seeing the same people everywhere, living in the exact place you study, and existing within such a specific culture that stepping outside of it is like walking into a blinding light. Every school has a bubble. But Vanguard’s bubble is so thick, so gruesomely distinct, that upon graduation, we students are left to scramble around unaware and unprepared in that glare. And they don’t even think to give us sunglasses.
It may be because we are a school of no more than 2,300 students and we have this one thing that ties us all together: the lifestyle contract.
The lifestyle contract details everything students are not allowed to do while attending Vanguard, whether you are 16 or 28 with three kids at home.
One who attends Vanguard cannot consume alcohol (even during winter break), and it is frowned upon to do so during the summer. Students cannot gamble, engage in premarital sex, live with someone of the opposite sex, use lewd language, or use any prohibited substances such as drugs and tobacco.
Of course not everyone supports or has an issue with the contract but it is our unifying factor that has led to this bubble.
Living in an environment where you are an adult, but can’t do normal adult things, can have an effect on students. Your twenties is the time to live life to the fullest and have no regrets. You do not need alcohol to enjoy life, but it should not be seen as something scary or wrong.
Another thing that should not seem scary or wrong is discussing things that are happening around the world in your classroom, among friends, on social media, or on campus.
Bringing up gun control, last years’ election, whether to stand or sit for the pledge of allegiance, or immigration should not have the power to bring a classroom to a halt as though someone just slammed the breaks on our fun-filled lives. Teachers should not feel as though once the word abortion comes up then that is where the discussion should end.
This is how the illustrious Vanguard bubble has started. With just a few hushes among students, teachers, and the school.
Somehow Vanguard packages real world information into little boxes with bows. Makes everything all pretty and gives it protection but once you are out, it pops. Depending on what is next for you, it may not be an easy transition. Not everyone is nice, prays for you or care about your opinion.
The Vanguard bubble prepares you for two different scenarios: to work at a church or to work at Vanguard. If those are outside of your realm, well then you are a jarring transition if this is your safe haven.
Bursting this bubble will be as though a veil is lifted from our eyes, and we are able to see the world and each other as we are. Once we walk across that stage and into the next step of our life whether it is a graduate program, a 9-5 job, or a gap year to figure things out, we need to be prepared.
If you cannot hold a conversation with someone who does not have the same views as you, or did not vote for the same candidate as you, then how are you supposed to grow?
Growth is a natural part of life but this bubble is a hindrance to that growth and appreciation of all things this world has to offer. If we become only comfortable with group thinking to keep the harmony and balance at Vanguard, then we are not ready for what is in store after Vanguard. Companies look for people who can critically think and bring new and fresh ideas to the table; if we are too scared to speak up and go along with whatever everyone wants then we are truly doing ourselves a disservice.
To burst a bubble is to shatter the fantasy world a person may be in and show them the true reality. For the Vanguard bubble to burst, the responsibility is on us: the students.
There are many number of ways for each of us to destroy this bubble that surrounds our campus.
Individually, we can expand our view beyond Vanguard. There are so many things happening in the world that students are not aware of until someone else speaks up. Even when someone speaks up, the issue still is not given the proper platform to be discussed.
If you have a question about Black Lives Matter, reach out to someone you know that stands for the cause and ask the question you want to ask. More times than not, that student is going to be so appreciative of the fact that you want to learn what’s going on.
If you want to know more about DACA, then ask the president of the El Puente club. At our school, a student shouldn’t be scared to ask a question when they don’t know the answer. So ask.
Next, expand your friend group from just Vanguard students or those who share the same ideals and beliefs as you. If you are constantly surrounding yourself with people who share the exact same view as you, you are not able to grow fully. Befriend an atheist or someone who is Catholic and get to know them and their story. We are called to be disciples of Christ so we are not put on this world to just be among the people who have the same view as us all the time. Go after the people who you have never spoken to before but you always see them at the coffee shop and you love the book they are reading. Go after the people that scare you just a little bit by how outspoken or quiet they are.
Lastly, go on a missions trip that is not through Vanguard. There are thousands of churches and organizations that are looking for students to travel with them. A mission is not the only way one can serve others. Volunteer for a beach clean, help at a senior-citizen center, organize a clothing or food drive, or anything that involves you helping someone. Bring your story and yourself to a different group of people and see where God will take you.
The Vanguard Bubble is special because it caters to the Christian mindset and it’s a key factor as to why Vanguard is special in general, but the truth is you can either prepare while you are in the bubble, or be prepared to fail when you’re out.
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