by Craig Davis, Head of College
As we approach the Winter Break I wanted to share some thoughts and reflections with the Pearson College UWC community.
Just this weekend as the children of residents and employees were celebrating the holidays with a campus-based Christmas extravaganza (another wonderful community building activity organised by our own guardian angel, Candice Hall), I had the chance to walk around our campus with two wise Indigenous educators who helped me to appreciate our place and privilege in new ways.
I have always enjoyed the time around the Winter Solstice and this year it is appropriate to offer thanks to our community during this period of gratitude and reflection. Even in the dead of winter our campus is a great teacher and seeing the place through the eyes of our Indigenous neighbours reminded me of our need to be grateful.
First and foremost, I want to thank our staff and faculty for the incredible work and commitment they have provided not only for this calendar year but over the past three years punctuated by unprecedented challenges. In many respects, Pearson is a small and tight community which means we all take on burdens and responsibilities beyond job descriptions to support our students who are far from home and without the normal support structures we often take for granted.
Thank you to each and everyone of our employees who continue to demonstrate the mission-driven culture of Pearson by connecting, supporting and extending their roles in the service of our students and our community.
I wish you all a safe, recuperating and energising break that is both well deserved and sorely needed.
For our students this season has been one of extended intercultural celebration starting with the Diwali celebration we hosted in our house in November, the great festival of lights marked by lamps, candles (or in our case sparklers) to symbolise the defeat of forces of darkness and depression.
Just yesterday in the dining hall we were blessed by a student celebration of Saint Lucy/Sancta Lucia Day, marking the martyrdom of Lucia who brought food and aid to hiding Christians while wearing a lit wreath on her head to light her way.✨
This day is widely celebrated in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden & Denmark) where the typical elements of the Christian celebration are fused together with “The Long Night of Lussi,” an ancient Norse tradition on one of the longest nights of the year. It was believed to be a night when powerful and supernatural forces were at work.
The sight of our students in procession wearing white robes and head wreaths and singing the “Lucia Song” in a pitch-black setting on campus was very moving.
The theme of light emerging from the darkest month, continues with Hanukkah this week as the lighting of the menorah symbolises triumph over adversity and the ninth candle represents how one spark can ignite many more, a reminder to us all to bring light to all interactions we have during this Winter Break.
Other students from the Ismaili community have celebrated Salgirah and many more will be engaging in cultural practices and traditions as we approach both the western and lunar new year festivities over the coming weeks.
The fact that so many cultures focus on love and forgiveness at a time when a cold environment seems most threatening, reminds me of Karen Armstrong’s identification of the concept of faith as grounded in practices of compassion and actions of kindness rather than doctrines or forced beliefs. Armstrong reminds us that the intersection of many faiths and bodies of traditional knowledge is the often cited “golden rule” first articulated by Confucius in the 5th Century BC, “Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself.” This one principle is the foundational root of many major religions and secular value systems around the world.
Living the golden rule through actions of giving, offering and support cultivates wisdom, compassion and empathy, perhaps the greatest markers of knowledge, education and achievement.
So, as we enter the Winter Break there is an opportunity to reflect and appreciate 2022 and the coming year of 2023.
On behalf of my own immediate family I want to extend my deep thanks for the incredible support and collegiality the Pearson community has extended to students and each other. People have been incredibly patient, supportive and kind, qualities we all hope to pay forward to those around us. Equally I wish to thank all of the College’s supporters and friends who continue to give of their time, expertise, resources and participation. Pearson’s wider community is truly the most exceptionally engaged group.
My family and I wish you all a very safe, happy and healthy Winter Break and look forward to building on the strengths we have constructed together as a community this year.
Here’s to a bright, happy and healthy new year.
Craig, Sarah, Isaac, Elizabeth and Ciaran