Archive for Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Graduation: both a journey and a destination

January 9, 2008

The KU Alumni Association produces a calendar each year; each month with a photograph of the KU campus. This year's calendar has as the front piece, a stone wall, on top of which is a green grid work fence like structure made of iron, inside of which are shapes-oval, square, and c shaped, intersected with four crosses. It is a complex design, difficult to describe, yet simple at first glance.

The back cover is of the Campanile - the tower's 53-bell carillon familiar to those who have been students there; poignant to those who have walked the hill at graduation - an ending and a beginning. The Campanile is silhouetted in shadows, graced by a sun, white ember, low on the horizon, orange background.

January's photograph is of a student, face obscured, dressed in brown corduroy pants, walking across a stone bridge. The student's hands are crammed inside the pockets of a green, hooded jacket; a loaded backpack seems to have attached to it, two medal rods-photography equipment; perhaps surveying equipment.

The stone bridge is square built, supported underneath by a stone arch; all covered with a dusting of snow. The bridge is framed on either side by tall, young trees; some leaves still hanging in spite of the winter.

The student, like the trees, is young and lithe; though snow encrusted, alive and warm with the flowing of sap, the yearning of youth. Underneath, the ground is solid; the bridge, like learning, is old and strong.

Learning, like the calendar's front piece, is both well defined and abstract; having form and being formless at the same time; framed by iron principles, supported by age old structures, giving rise to that which we admire, but cannot name or describe.

The student walks across the bridge from right to left; just as learning moves us from the old to the new; from the strictures of the past, to the thinking and creativity of the future.

Toward a much-sought-after destination; end of one journey, the beginning of another. Like the last photograph on the back cover, the tower of learning appears to mark a final destination in shadows; the shadows are an illusion, and the horizon holds both sunset and sunrise. From abstract beginning, the mind emerges with form, structure and purpose; the yearning of youth burning brightly, the thirst for learning unquenchable. The bells of hope ring in halls of learning and echo in the chambers of a learned heart, a searching mind, and a spirit which finds in each end, a new beginning.

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