On the afternoon of Saturday, July 8, I saw the meaning of a Houghton education lived out in ways that a four-color admissions flyer or one-minute video could never capture. I wanted to summon every aspiring Houghton student to join us on the lawn behind the campus center to get a vision of what their college experience could be.
Faculty, staff, and community members gathered to celebrate the Houghton cyclists as they passed through our town on their cross-country journey from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans.
Practicing Christian Community
The trip came about because several Houghton graduates wanted to share the good news of the life of Christian community they had discovered at Houghton. They wanted to live out intentionally the gift and challenge of accomplishing a task that none of them could do alone, but that they could achieve together by calling out the diversity of each other’s gifts. This is what Houghton teaches.
Supporting Initiative and Imagination
Such an ambitious endeavor required extensive planning and a great amount of initiative on the part of the students, who partnered with our marketing and communications team to not only take the transformative story of Houghton College on the road but also make a creative student dream into a reality. At Houghton, there is room (and encouragement) for fearless originality.
Faculty, staff, administrators, students, and members of the surrounding community gathered to welcome the cyclists and to enjoy a potluck supper picnic together. Some brought their families. At Houghton, college students are surrounded by older learners and older Christian believers who have chosen to invest their lives in the students, not only by giving lectures and assigning papers but also by inviting the students to share their Christian pilgrimages.
Integration of Learning and Living
While at the picnic, I not only heard some of the cyclists’ tales, but also participated with students in conversations about church history, a 20th century British writer, the work of the global church in the 21st century, and plans for post-college graduate education. This natural incorporation of ‘academic’ topics into the flow of life is the way learning should be. At Houghton, learning is meant to be for life in the ‘real’ world, not for the ivory tower.
I left the picnic, reminded once again of the rare and priceless treasure of this community. While I don’t want to wish the summer away, I left with renewed anticipation for the return of the students. We are not Houghton without them!
Wherever you are, may you be daring to dream big dreams. May you be surrounded by those who will help you accomplish them, and may your learning and living continue to make your world larger with each passing year.
Grace and Peace to you today.
Shirley A. Mullen, Class of 1976