emoment with carl

In the Dutch immigrant community where I grew up in Michigan, it wasn’t uncommon to hear a few people still speaking the language of the “old country”.  Enamored with being up-to-date, which meant enthusiasm for Davy Crocket, hula hoops, white bread, and the TV Guide, my friends and I pretended not to understand the snatches of Dutch our relatives used-- “rommel(junk),  “niet nodig” (not necessary), and “spotten” (mocking). But my grandfather, who, to my embarrassment, insisted that wooden shoes were the best way to steady himself on an extension ladder when painting his house, had a catch phrase that has stayed with me all of my life, and not just because the Dutch is close to English: “Een goed begin is ‘t halve werk.”   A good beginning is half of the work. Before starting a carpentry job, grandfather would carefully check his tools, take all the measurements, estimate the time required, and only then begin to work. He was, no surprise, a master carpenter. So it is with our faculty, staff, and students beginning a new academic year. Syllabi have been revised, new software launched, laboratory supplies re-ordered, books chosen and purchased, field trips planned, and much more. Equally important is the readying of the mind. Openness to self-reflection and to being surprised by the unexpected, a commitment to the pursuit of learning, dedication to stretching one’s talents and the deepening of one’s abilities—all of these are a good beginning for an education well-achieved. This week, in Esbenshade and Musser Hall laboratories, in Zug Hall recital rooms, and all across campus, young people and their teachers will make a good beginning. We wish them well. 

Enjoy the moment,

Carl J. Strikwerda,

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Elizabethtown College
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Elizabethtown, PA 17022-2298
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Elizabethtown College