January 2009

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Commencement is the most important of college traditions, and one of the activities that fills our Commencement weekend is the Baccalaureate service, which takes place on Saturday afternoon in Mead Chapel.

Traditionally, the purpose of Baccalaureate was/is for the president to give a farewell address to the seniors, which the president now gives to graduating seniors and their families.  Because space is limited in Mead, our largest (and traditional venue) we hold two services.

Over the years, students have questioned the logic of dividing the class for this event, since it represents the “other bookend” of one’s education, where the first bookend was first-year convocation.  At convocation, the president welcomes students to campus, and addresses the entire class as one. 
 
Following several queries from students, we have been discussing what alternatives we have to the current set up.  One that has been proposed would be to move the hour-long Baccalaureate service to Senior Week, and hold it on Wednesday afternoon just before the Senior BBQ.  In this scenario, we would hold just one service, which would enable the entire senior class to be together in Mead just as they were at Convocation when they first entered Middlebury.  We could then have a class picture following baccalaureate as we did following convocation, and move the senior BBQ to the quad in front of McCullough. It would also open up Saturday afternoon for families to take part in other events on campus, or just share time together.  The downside to this option is that families would not be able to attend the service with the graduating seniors.
 
I would like to know whether this option has any appeal to the class of 2009. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.  Thanks.

UPDATE: sorry for the original typo and thanks for finding it.  I did mean the Class of 2009

Amid all the hoopla and celebrations surrounding the inauguration of Barack Obama (more on that in another post), there comes terribly sad and tragic news within the Middlebury community.

Amer Shurrab, a recent Middlebury graduate from Gaza and a United World College graduate, lost two brothers in the recent conflict in northern Gaza. Twenty-eight year old Kassab and 18-year old Ibrahim were shot as they tried to make their way from their farm back to their village.  Amer’s father was with his sons when the attack occurred. He survived the shootings, and tried for hours to get aid to his sons, but medics were prevented from moving into the zone of conflict. You can find an interview with Amer about the tragedy at the Democracy Now Web site.

Amer completed his degree in economics at Middlebury this past December.  He was in Washington, D.C., when this tragedy struck. Friends are now organizing to help raise funds in support of Amer and his family. Details  on their effort can be found below.

Amer will be coming to campus this weekend, and there will be a memorial/prayer service on Thursday, January 29, at 7:30 p.m. in the Abernethy Room of the Axinn Center. 

Our hearts go out to Amer and his family, and we hope many in the extended Middlebury community will reach out and help Amer in whatever way they can.

Update, January 25: Help for a Gaza Family

. . . This tragedy has left Amer and his family in dire need of assistance. They are struggling to pay hospital fees for Mohammed Shurrab’s injury, and to pay burial fees for Kassab and Ibrahim. In addition, the Shurrab family lost their small farming business 18 months ago as the Israeli blockade on Gaza resulted in a lack of gas supplies and birdfeed. As a result, they need assistance in reviving it to sustain themselves economically.

We are devastated by Amer’s loss, and want to help him and his family as much as possible. This is why we are launching a fundraiser for Amer and his family. The money collected will go to support Amer’s family in Gaza directly and cover their basic needs. A fraction of your donation will also go to help Amer, who graduated a month ago, and is struggling to meet his living expenses.

Please join us in helping Amer and his family get back on their feet. You can do so by donating through Paypal, or by sending a money order or check to the following address where Amer currently resides:

Amer Shurrab
c/o Tristan Hayes and Pavel Svaton
2414 N 18th St
Arlington, VA 22201

You can also choose to donate to many of the international and local aid agencies currently operating in Gaza. Below are a few suggestions of internationally renowned organizations.

1) ICRC – allows you to donate specifically to help in Palestine
http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/iwpList2/Help_the_ICRC?OpenDocument
 
2) The UN – through UNRWA – has a “Special Gaza Appeal”
http://www.un.org/unrwa/
 
3) Physicians for Human Rights has offices in Israel and has been working in Gaza
http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/
http://www.phr.org.il/phr/article.asp?articleid=24&catid=51&pcat=51&lang=ENG

We thank you for your help at this time of urgent need.

Peacefully,

Tristan Hayes and Pavel Svaton

 Donate via PayPal (account required)

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