As I was touring the beautiful Campus of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale I came upon a memorial plaque and tree dedicated to former administrator and professor Charles Klasek. The heading of the memorial was “One World/One Campus.”
Dr. Klasek was a popular administrator overseeing SIU’s outreach to international students in the 80’s. In those halcyon days SIU had a very large international student population. This outreach was a priority of the University…and for our country’s higher education system.
I began as a crew supervisor in Building Services in 1979. On my crew were; African, Malaysian, Turkish, Iranian, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, American and many other representatives of foreign countries. At one time students from over 70 nations attended University at SIU.
I am reminded each time I visit Europe how much more humanity is alike than different. On our recent visit to the United Kingdom I thought almost daily…that I could live there.
London remains to me one of the most fascinating and mysterious cities I have ever been exposed to. There is a unique mixture of the very old and the new in this bustling financial metropolis.
There is the feeling that Charles Dickens could be around the next corner accompanied by Mr. Scrooge and Tiny Tim…or that you might bump into Mr. Bean!
Oxford felt like home to me. I experienced Déjà vu. This historic English town…makes you want to study…to learn…to apply yourself…as my teachers admonished me to do!
It is also a great place to receive literary inspiration as you enjoy a pint…or two with fish and chips at C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien’s favorite pub…The Eagle and Child.In Edinburgh I met a man who was in a wheelchair, the first evening that we were there, who asked me to assist him to his feet to facilitate his ordering food as we walked through the cafeteria type line. His kindness to me…over just a few minutes…caused me to enjoy Edinburgh immensely. It was people who were performing their Art and enjoying the performances that were outstanding in their Ordinariness. Most were not professional actors..but their heartfelt immersion in their craft was enlightening. It illustrated to me in a profound way…that I and all people should engage in their artistic passion…as a member of the human race…to enrich their life…and the lives of others!
Or at Stratford-upon-Avon…there was a mixture of serious sincere Anglican Christians and people who love Shakespeare. Have you ever read Shakespeare? There is nothing that compares to it! He was a literary genius!
We attended a performance of Dr. Faustus in the Swan Theatre and we were transported to another world!
At Shakespeare’s home there were the most engaging actors performing passages from any Shakespeare Play that the audience called out.
The power of education…the power of faith…the power of writing…the power of theatre…the power of Art…can transform us and can cause us to understand our fellow human beings…and the beauty of life on this blue globe!
The well know Dutch author Herman Koch wrote in his new book, Dear Mr. M, as the main character was dying…that his perception of his life was that it had ‘been like one long boring day.’
Let us make our day of life special and exciting…and a study in this grand…mysterious…painful…and glorious existence that we find ourselves in.