STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 05/25/2012

A Word—and World—of Thanks

By Arlyne Sargent

Back in November of 2004, the Gordon College faculty and staff gathered for a Thanksgiving dinner in Easton Dining Room. The theme was global—"A World of Thanks"—and featured music and reflections by our international students. Above all, they wanted to give thanks. Now it’s my turn.

The International Student Office has offered me one of the best water views on campus. I’ve often mailed a bookmark of Gordon’s autumnal beauty to our new international students, a welcome to Coy Pond—and to Gordon. They came to discover our shores, from a first event at Singing Beach where they played that international sport, futbol. In turn, they transported us to distant lands as international chapel speakers, taking us to Chad, Latvia, Kenya, Korea and beyond. And, along the way, we shared their joys and heard their tragedies: the tsunami in Sri Lanka, the earthquake in Haiti.

It’s been my privilege to work with these students for the past nine years. Even during routine tasks—when copying a student’s Nepali passport page, for example—something exciting came through. I was for a moment transported to the Kingdom of Nepal, even as I realized it was Nepal that had come to us. Gordon College opened up its classrooms, its library, its residence halls, and its playing fields to more than 200 international students during these years, but I can’t possibly measure the richness they brought into our hearts and minds.

Now my office is scattered with mementos of these students, from their homelands. These new bookmarks compel me to gratitude for these wonderful years together and anticipation of the days when I may explore their shores.

The daughter of a Dutch immigrant, Arlyne Van Dam Sargent is a native Californian who has also lived in Japan and the Netherlands. In late May she and her husband, Mark—also a native Californian—will begin the next chapter of their lives at Westmont College, her alma mater. They have three children: Bradford (a graduate of Houghton College and American University), Daniel (B.A., Westmont 2011, now at Columbia University), and Andrea (a first-year student at Westmont).

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