A Word from Dr. Vera Jelinek Divisional Dean
In my letter to you two years ago I focused on devastation in Haiti, and last year I highlighted the critical issues in Afghanistan with its refugee exodus and crisis. There is no shortage of civil wars, assassinations, power grabs, ethnic cleansing and no continent is spared. The victims are ordinary people like us, targeted for their gender, ethnicity, religion, or being in a position or place coveted by others. Many of you know my history as a refugee during and after W.W.II and some of you may also know that most of my family including my mother were killed just because of those reasons. So when I read of people freezing in forests, hiding in basements, seeing their villages and homes razed, or being hounded and denied the basic rights that all of us deserve, I am angry. But anger is not enough. We extended some scholarships and fellowships to Afghan evacuees which you will read about in this newsletter, but that too is not enough.
Effecting positive change is up to you, our current and past students, and our entire community. You have the world ahead, many years to do what my generation failed to do be it to counter climate change, protect human rights, assist those being targeted, root out corruption and power grabs and much more. In my day it was protesting against McCarthyism and prejudice, in your day the stakes are much higher and threaten the planet.
My comfort comes from knowing that you will have the tools to try and resolve the enormous challenges that face you. I say “try” because that in itself suggests that there may be resolution if you consolidate your efforts, utilize the knowledge and tools that you have at your disposal, and never lose sight of compassion and humility at your good fortune.
I also address this message to our CGA community writ large: faculty, staff, public event participants, advisory board members and friends who share our goals of a just world. We each have a role to play wherever we are and whatever we do to meet tomorrow’s challenges.
With all good wishes for the year ahead.