‘In geography, an oasis is an isolated area in a dessert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source, such as a pond or small lake. Oasis also provide habitat for animals and even humans if the area is big enough.’ Wikipedia
I was talking with my long time friend, Elizabeth, yesterday. She and her husband, Ryan, are examples of the very best that Southern Illinois University at Carbondale has to offer. They, along with thousands of other staff and faculty are in love with their University and the benefits that it brings their lives.
The love of SIUC is not an academic enterprise for so many of us…it is a visceral and emotional and life altering oasis…where the water of education and life and opportunity was offered to us.
When I cam to SIUC, 40 years ago, I believed that my options had ran out…and I was only 20 years old. I had done a lot of living from 17 until 20…and it had been difficult.
In a biased area of the country…SIUC offered diversity.
In a farming and coal mining area of the country…SIUC offered academic and technical opportunity.
In an area of the country that was noted for it’s poor living conditions and minimum wage…SIUC offered advancement into the middle class…with health benefits.
My mother’s career aspirational goal for me was to become a barber.
My mother-in-law and father-in-law both worked careers in factories that paid little money.
People in Southern Illinois are pleased when they can pay their bills and have enough money left over for the Dairy Queen and a movie.
We do not love SIUC because it is a cute thing to do…or because it is politically correct….but because we were terribly thirsty and we found an abundance of water at the Oasis.