Friday, August 19, 2005

Multiple identities

Life as a combination dormgrandpop, teaching center director, SIS faculty member and Sri Lankan scholar may be hectic, but it is rarely dull. Perhaps most interesting is the opportunity to move within different AU and Washington DC institutional cultures. And the cultures really are different, just like differences between Sri Lankan culture, Central London English culture (Central London is where I stop over when I travel to Asia), Hungarian culture, Hume, Virginia culture and French culture.

My day began at 5:00 when I dressed for my regular Friday 6 AM tennis game. I then returned to campus and greeted parents who were helping their freshperson daughters and sons move into Anderson Hall. Then to the office, just a short walk away, for my regular morning tour of CTE computing labs and touching base with the respective managers. Then to staff meetings on the Center’s budget, our orientation for about 50 CTE staff members, to be held next Friday, and our orientation for more than 50 new faculty members who will be joining AU for the first time, to be held on Monday. Then back to Anderson and in my dormgrandpop role, I redecorated the Faculty Resident’s Bulletin Board in the Anderson Hall lobby.

Switching to diplomatic garb and after a brief meeting with CTE’s event manager, I taxied to Sri Lanka’s embassy for a two hour memorial service honoring Sri Lanka’s recently assassinated foreign minister, Lakshman Kardigarmar. This moving event, with only about 30 staff and Washingtonians close to the Minster in attendance, included Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Muslim prayers. The place of honor was given to the eight Buddhist priests who were in attendance and who sat quietly while other guests exchanged conversation, reminiscences and condolences. The Ambassador, his senior staff and a leading Sri Lankan lawyer knelt respectfully before them. I rode back with a diplomat friend of many years. She was US Ambassador in Sri Lanka more than a decade ago, during several of my long visits there.

And of course now I am at my computer, sharing experiences with whomever of you chooses to make contact in cyberspace.

My evening will be devoted to buying groceries for tomorrow morning’s event, when I serve continental breakfast in my apartment and the Letts-Anderson Quad to parents and arriving students, to help make the challenges of ‘moving in’ a bit less stressful. If it isn’t to late a will scrub parts of my living room rug which are showing leavings of many student visitors.

Then it’s off to my home in the country for a short weekend, doing the things one does, when there is time, in a country home – maintaining fence lines, cutting grass and reinvigorating oneself with beauty and tranquility of the Shenandoah foothills.

On Sunday morning, I walk the two miles or so to Leeds Church, often described in this blog and join that community in hymn singing, communion, ‘prayers of the people’ and coffee hour.

How adaptable we human beings can be. How interesting, varied and challenging life can be.


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