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Remembering Memorial Day

May 26, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 Oberlin

For those of you abroad who don't know, this past weekend was a holiday in the US: Memorial Day. This three-day weekend commemorates the American soldiers who have paid the ultimate price in their service to the United States. As someone who works in international admissions, this is somewhat of a troublesome holiday as many of the people that we commemorated died fighting in your countries, as often as not against your compatriots. Moreover, Oberlin is a place that values dialogue and sees war as something that should be avoided if at all possible. Still, we as an institution have remembered our students who died in service. There is a memorial next to Finney Chapel commemorating the World War II losses (or maybe it was the "Great War," WWI).

For many years, the College has caused most of us to be too busy to think much about the official reasons for Memorial Day as we have filled the weekend with our Commencement activities. If you go to the Commencement Weekend site, you will be truly astounded by all of the activities that we squeezed into these past three days. Sunday evening my wife, Katya (who is Bulgarian), and I hosted a picnic for a bunch of our Bulgarian students and alumni and some family members. We had two current students, a graduating student and her mom, and two alumni plus a fiancé. It was a nice get-together and represents some of the informal things that Oberlin people do with our international students. The menu was mostly American: barbecued chicken, ribs, and pulled pork; potato salad; lemonade, and chips. But we also had a Shopska salad (Bulgarian) and Corona beer (Mexican).

Earlier in the afternoon, Katya also hosted an official event - a reception for all of the graduating international students. I may have some pictures of that to share as well, but at the moment the camera with all of those shots is in Los Angeles. Although I knew quite a few of the graduating international students from working with them in Admissions, I suspect that future years will be even more exciting for me. This year's graduating class was the last class of international students who were admitted to Oberlin College before I started working in admissions. Beginning next year, all of the College of Arts & Sciences students will be kids that I helped bring to Oberlin.

The actual Commencement itself was yesterday. You can check out my previous blog to learn more about the speaker and to see one student's opinion about the speech. I was unable to attend myself as I needed to take Katya to the airport.

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