Community and Celebration

community mealLast week, I participated in not just one but two celebrations and both reminded me of the special nature of our community. On Thursday, my wife Kathryn and I joined faculty member Stan Samuelson as he hosted a Passover Seder attended by current faculty, parents, and students, as well as alumni. Stan’s Seder (and this will certainly ring true for all who know him) blended traditional readings with his inimitable narratives. Stan has taught at Williston since 1982 and is consistently praised by students and alumni as an excellent teacher. We celebrated together as one under his guidance.

The next evening, Kathryn and I hosted the Asian Culture Club as they prepared and served a wonderful variety of foods for the 18 winners of the “Asia at the Hills” raffle. The event was a fundraising effort for relief in Japan and a case in point of “doing good well.” I have been here less than a year but I’ve already lost count of how many times our community has come together—in good times and not-so-good times—to support one another. Students and faculty alike enjoyed being feted by the enthusiastic club members.

What was not lost on me was that these back-to-back events, though dissimilar in origin, revealed an essential truth about Williston: when we collaborate with one another in diverse settings each individual is strengthened.

(Almost) One Thousand Cranes

Origami cranes and a visiting professor’s musical prowess on the Koto greeted us at our all-school community life assembly on Tuesday as Williston students and faculty showed their support of our Japanese students and their families, as well as the larger human community in Japan that has been affected by the recent tsunami and its aftermath. Following the example of a quartet of “little Willies”—the young children of two faculty members—the entire school made an additional 832 paper cranes.

To begin our meeting, our guest Dr. Ann Prescott, director of East Asian Studies for the Five Colleges, gave a beautiful performance on the Koto, a traditional Japanese stringed musical instrument. Then the crane-making began. I joined one advisory group in making a crane and then observed our students and faculty spread throughout the gym as they completed theirs—it was an inspiring sight.

With our long history of welcoming students from Japan as well as many other nations around the world, Williston provides a global diversity that enriches the experience of each student, and on this day we certainly shared in a common spirit.

bob hill crane

Here I am with my crane!