UW-Madison: A Walk Down Memory Lane

Have you ever returned to a place you once knew so well? And on your return, did you feel like a stranger and a friend?

This past weekend, that was me -- a stranger and a friend.

I was invited as the Keynote Artist for the Hmong Culture Night organized by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Hmong American Student Association (HASA).

With the bright & talented Hmong American Student Association (HASA) of UW-Madison

With the bright & talented Hmong American Student Association (HASA) of UW-Madison

I’m no stranger to these big titles:

Hmong Culture Night,
University of Wisconsin-Madison,
Hmong American Student Association (HASA).

Nearly ten years ago, I graduated from UW-Madison. One of my biggest contributions to the UW student life was organizing a 1,000-capacity Hmong Culture Night with a handful of my passionate and hardworking HASA peers. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite memories as a UW student.

Before the show this past weekend, a former HASA co-chair (Hi, MaiGer!) reminded me that I sung at the very first HASA Hmong Culture Night.

Goodness, how time flies.

From landing to take-off, I had exactly 48 hours in Madison, WI and I knew I wanted to be on campus for as long as possible. I wanted to walk down memory lane once again.

What I didn’t expect was how bittersweet it would be and the important lesson I’d bring home with me...

First stop: Nitty Gritty where they have the best cheese curds & burger!

First stop: Nitty Gritty where they have the best cheese curds & burger!

How sweet: I found a parking spot right in front of my UW graduation venue.

How sweet: I found a parking spot right in front of my UW graduation venue.

I couldn't tell you where this was on campus if you took this and showed it to me. Students call it East Campus Mall. I call it change.

I couldn't tell you where this was on campus if you took this and showed it to me. Students call it East Campus Mall. I call it change.

Singing "Hluav Taws" at the 12th Biennial Hmong Culture Night at UW-Madison on Saturday night.

Singing "Hluav Taws" at the 12th Biennial Hmong Culture Night at UW-Madison on Saturday night.

My home as a UW-Madison student. So much of the same remains, yet so much has changed.

My home as a UW-Madison student. So much of the same remains, yet so much has changed.

No longer called CIMC, but still the same library I lived, sweated, & learned in for years.

No longer called CIMC, but still the same library I lived, sweated, & learned in for years.

My first apartment ever used be right where that car is on the street. 1314 W. Johnson Street.

My first apartment ever used be right where that car is on the street. 1314 W. Johnson Street.

Years later, I now see your beauty, UW-Madison. Just look at Bascom Hill. 

Years later, I now see your beauty, UW-Madison. Just look at Bascom Hill. 

State Street, you will always have a special place in my heart.

State Street, you will always have a special place in my heart.

After this inspiring weekend, one important takeaway I brought home was this:

Live in the moment.
Enjoy what is right in front of you. Now.

Why?

No one knows what’ll be here or what’ll be gone tomorrow.

An old building you spent nights studying in without much care may fill you with a sense of home ten years down the road. An unfriendly hill you once climbed may become one of the most beautiful sights you’ve seen. A home you made sweet memories in may get torn down, making you search for your old beginnings.

When you live in the moment, years later, that moment will be enough
to remember the good times of that period in your life.

 

As stated by the American actress & singer, Mae West:

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
Once a Badger, always a Badger.

Once a Badger, always a Badger.

Wherever you are today, may you embrace your surroundings and the people in it right now. One day, I promise, you’ll be grateful you did.

Your turn: Where have you returned to and seen how much it’s changed? Where do you wish you could go back to enjoy more of it? As always, please leave a comment below as I enjoy hearing from you!

Until next time...

Dream BIG,
Pagnia