Soft smiles make the world go round

Megan Vogt, Opinion Editor

Minnesota Nice is very much alive and vibrant. We Minnesotans come from backgrounds of knowing that hard work does indeed pay off. For years growing up, we would often times find ways to work hard to gain some sort of reward. If there was not a reward, then we were working hard because our moms were getting after us because we had not been helping out around the house enough. Those constant reminders of chores and duties around the house caused us to be some of the most well-known people in the country for their kindness, besides southern hospitality. 


This past weekend I spent time with approximately 700 women from organizations across the country. I was in a small group with women from Texas, Florida, North Carolina, California, and Vermont. We spent time discussing leadership and challenges we have faced as leaders of our organizations, I learned so much from them. 


I learned the Texas ways of being stubborn with tough love, I learned the easy-going mindset of Floridians, but I also learned that those from Arizona and California are tough to be around. They don’t give you a polite smile when you walk by. They definitely do not engage in conversations if it doesn’t apply to them. They are shocked by the lack of true diversity up here. And what surprised me the most is they still had not heard of Caribou Coffee. 


I was told by many that us UND women were some of the most go-with-the-flow people they had met. This shocked me since for the most part, I think us Midwesterners come up with a plan and we stick to it almost to the exact second. When I was told that I had “radiating vibes” I instantly thought of Minnesota Nice. 


Being in Indianapolis with women from across the country really did show those around us what it is like to only have 12 women representing North Dakota/Minnesota.  Honestly, whenever I walked into a room, it was all eyes, no smile and one big judgmental stare. It was not fun. However, if we would have had more Minnesotans/North Dakotans present. It would full of soft smiles and back to scrolling through Tik Tok. 


It was in these moments that I really do love the charm of being surrounded by those raised by similar values and work ethic. Although it was only a weekend trip, I learned to love joys of noticing a neighbors car driving around the corner and doing the friendly wave. The joys of stopping mid-grocery shop in the seasoning aisle because you see someone you graduated with and you catch up. I do know for sure that I truly missed the aspects the soft smiles as you pass a stranger. 


There is something about just walking around and seeing a soft smile. It could be at the mall when you’re shopping with friends, at a coffee shop when you are so intently focusing on your chemistry homework or it could be a simple smile as you walk to your car. The fact that a simple smile can make or break a persons day shows that Minnesota Nice truly makes the world go round.