Golden Grains

Dean Hatim Eltayeb’s remarks to ALA students and staffulty at the virtual End of Term Assembly, 19 November 2020. This message was delivered following the End of Term Awards ceremony, an event that offers an opportunity for students and staffulty to practice the value of excellence by celebrating the achievements of others.

First, I want to acknowledge the anxiety, concern and grief that many community members are experiencing as the crisis in Ethiopia develops. I know that we are all hoping for a just and speedy resolution.

Second, I want to acknowledge that while the term ends today for the Year 2’s, our energetic and vibrant Year 1’s still have several weeks of Virtual Term ahead of them. I am grateful for the vigor and zest with which so many of you have engaged the community so far. Whether over Zoom, Teams or email, I can see meaningful engagement in many places. There are a few Year 1’s whose arrival on campus will now be like the arrival of a minor television celebrity. I look forward to meeting you on campus and seeing your continued engagement here.

Third, Year 2’s, you’ve weathered what I hope will go down in history as the weirdest ALA term on record. You’ve done so with diligence and generally with good humor. You’ve put in the hours remotely and in person and I hope you feel that you are reaping the rewards. Your rest is well deserved.

Some of you will remember a concept I have referenced before that comes from Japanese art and philosophy. Kintsugi, K I N T S U G I, is the art of golden joinery or golden repair.

Kintsugi: The Aesthetics Of Repair | Fanatic Cook

Take a plate or a pot or another artifact that is broken and repair it using a material (such as gold) which instead of hiding or obscuring the break, highlights it instead. This approach is a way of embracing the history of difficulty and challenge which the object carries or embodies.

For the past 8 months, our community has been physically fragmented. We have been joined together but our threads have been invisible, or at least virtual. In January, we will have the chance to repair this fragmentation. To pull together again the pieces of our community and make something boldly new and beautiful but that also treasures our past. There will be newness: new faces, new rules to keep us safe but also new dreams and aspirations. To make it work, we will need kindness, curiosity and a willingness to hold each other accountable. We will need golden grains.

I invite each of us, students and staffulty alike, to spend some time over the next few months considering what gold we will each bring back with us to contribute to the repair of our community. This is not material gold, but spiritual gold. The golden grains of character, wit, knowledge, experience and joy. What was broken will become whole again and more beautifully so.

A final word of thanks goes to the faculty. Eight months ago something entirely new and unexpected came bearing down on us at unbelievable speed. I could not have asked for better colleagues with whom to weather this storm.

Rest well everyone.

Term 2 commences on 05 January 2021.