WOW! I can’t believe that August has finally arrived yet again, and the leaves will soon be turning and falling. I still remember the first week in May marking the end of the spring semester, and how everyone was looking forward to the summer to escape, to unwind and to soak in a straight twelve-hours of sunshine each day till fall succeeds. Oh, what joy it was to see the sunset past eight in the nights, watch raindrops fall in the evenings, take afternoon siestas and soon after to see the beautiful rainbow right from a distance while having a vanilla ice cream with a hint of butterscotch in a cone. Now that’s what a vacation is all about!
Some of you may have traveled far for the holidays, some of you may have found internships and new passions, some of you may have gone on new adventures and let’s just say some of us would have just sat back on the couch and embraced the holiday spirit right into our bellies, munching on popcorn and trying to re-watch TV shows like The Office and Game of Thrones. Don’t be ashamed because I did it too. Either way, I am certain all of us have rejuvenated ourselves in some way or another and we are ready to embrace the fall semester with new goals, clear visions, and some fearful wonderment on what exactly may lie ahead for us this semester.
EDUCATION. One big, titanic word that probably entered some of our vocabulary as early as when we were four years old. There are so many popular educational quotes out there today, but the one expression that caught my attention and has remained in my memory is voiced by G.K. Chesterton and he beautifully explains, “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.” There has never been a moment in my life when I wondered what education really means to me, because I believe it means so many things to each one of us. When I was younger, I must acknowledge, I was fearful of it at times. Well, maybe when exams were coming in forms of tidal waves while I was in high school, well maybe when I had to make decisions on my future and to choose my educational destination; north, south, east or west, over the Atlantic Ocean to England or across the Pacific to Japan, and well maybe when I wondered why Math had so many formulas that I had to know and remember, while Chemistry ran its course. But, just like pieces to a jigsaw puzzle, I have grown to see education as a beautiful yet powerful form of knowledge that we shall forever continuously pick up over our lifetime.
I firmly believe that the power of education does not just come from books filled with chapters but entails a deeper and precious connection between classmates and professors, the relationships we build around us and the life experiences we clasp along the way of our four-year college, graduate or Ph.D. time frame. Between you and me, I like to call it an everlastingness of audacity. That’s it! I think this best expresses what I am trying to say.
Sometimes we wonder if professors ever stop learning because we always see them as the source of only offering knowledge and they keep doing it year after year focusing on the very same course of study. But, quite frankly, I do believe that they pick up their pieces of continuous learning as they teach their classes, and secretly between you and me, I think they don’t tell us that these pieces come from their students. The passing of education does not simply drive on a one-way road, but I see it running its course on a two-way street. Also, what makes it even more enriching is when a campus is attended by students from around the country and from other countries because this is when education becomes enriched and strengthened by faraway cultures and generations. WOW! I thought about this a lot, and I think this is what makes universities thrive and allows education to grow.
Alright, enough of getting all technical on that big, titanic word of EDUCATION, so let’s focus on the start of the fall semester. We are just a few days away from that first class encounter, first sorority meeting, first college football game night, first meetup with new friends, first college club get-together; it is a very big first day and week for all of us. So welcome and welcome back to all returning sophomores, juniors and seniors, transfer and freshmen students! May we be filled with fire, inspiration, determination, and passion as we embark on our educational journey once again. Just as importantly is that we will be able to discover new friendships and embrace the power of cultures and generations through it all. As a returning student, I am certain that the faculty and staff will be welcoming us back with sheer admiration and support to see us succeed in every way possible. I will end with a powerful phrase from Yates as he eloquently voiced, “Education is not a filling of a pail, but the lightning of a fire.”
My Best to you all and may the life learning force be with us all this fall!
Tout le meilleur
Zhù nǐ hǎo yùn
Chokh dī viel Glück
Viel Glück Alles Gueti