Dec. 11, 2019
Well, it’s that time of year again, where I find myself casually singing along to holiday music and, inevitably, end up crying. This year, as I face Christmas without my dad, it’s happened more than usual. In fact, I even had to duck down the bread aisle at Meijer to wipe my tears before any other shoppers happened to notice.
Most of the time, it’s because of a particular song or lyric. One that always gets me is “My Grown-up Christmas List.” It’s not about snowfall and jingle bells, but a wish for “no more lives torn apart” and “everyone would have a friend” and “love would never end.” That’s a pretty solid list right there. If only we could somehow grant those wishes.
While we might not be able to solve all of the world’s problems, that never stops us from trying. As Spartans, we’re tackling big things like disease and food insecurity, and small things like reaching out and sharing warm wishes. Everything makes a difference.
Speaking of warm wishes, President Stanley sent out holiday greetings yesterday from the university. Check it out in the beautiful MSUTODAY FEATURE: Happy Holidays, and watch a cheery short video guaranteed to make you feel good. ‘Tis the season to be sure.
It’s also the season for traveling, and I wish everyone safe and uneventful trips to wherever he or she is headed. This will be the first year in a very long time where I’ll be staying put. Though I am headed out to Chicago for a conference soon and will be traveling by train, which always seems like a throwback to a different time.
Graduate music performance student James Brinkmann recently took that same train from Chicago to East Lansing. Well, technically he tried to take that same train, but it was delayed due to engine issues. Eventually, when it seemed as if no one was traveling that night, he mentioned renting a car. What happened next is a great story about a group of Spartans who had never met sharing a long ride home. Check out the STUDENT VIEW: Stranded strangers, to read a heartwarming story and learn why James says, “It was a real human experience that will stick with me for a long time.”
James found that while his fellow travelers were from different walks of life, they weren't really all that different. When we open ourselves to new experiences and new people, we discover common threads that unite us all. We might even make new friends.
Jeff Dwyer, the director of MSU Extension, is a firm believer in the importance of being open and accepting of all people. He is committed to “fostering an environment where everyone feels safe, respected and welcomed." Read his FACULTY VOICE: Inclusive environments, to learn more about the work he does and how important it is to make people feel included. After all, people might not always remember what you say, but they do remember how it makes them feel.
This weekend, more than 2,700 Spartans will graduate during commencement exercises. While they all share being Spartans, they are anything but all alike. They range in age from 20 to 71 years old, come from 44 states and 52 countries. They will go out into the world with different degrees, experiences and skills. But they are all proud Spartans who have the ability to change the world for the better.
We all have the ability to make a difference. No matter our backgrounds and talents, we all have the capacity to make someone’s life better. Do what you can do to help see that lives aren’t torn apart; everyone has a friend and love will never end. We can do it. All it takes is a little bit of Spartans Will.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner