As the end of the semester is now upon us, it is difficult for many of us to understand how the time passes so quickly here at Bowdoin. It feels like just yesterday it was move in day, with nervous first years saying good-bye to parents, and excited upperclassmen reuniting with friends from far away. But now, eight months have elapsed and we are all entering new chapters of our lives. For many seniors this is one of the scariest times of their lives, as they enter the world beyond the Bowdoin bubble and begin a new journey. For those of us who still have time at Bowdoin, this is often a period of reflection and growth, as we consider what the future at Bowdoin will hold. With all of this in mind, I think it is important to reflect on the words of advice that Bowdoin offers us. The offer of Bowdoin College is as follows:
TO BE AT HOME in all lands and all ages; To count Nature a familiar acquaintance, And Art an intimate friend; To gain a standard for the appreciation of others’ work And the criticism of your own; To carry the keys of the world’s library in your pocket, And feel its resources behind you in whatever task you undertake; To make hosts of friends...Who are to be leaders in all walks of life; To lose yourself in generous enthusiasms And cooperate with others for common ends —This is the offer of the college for the best four years of your life.
This is the offer of Bowdoin College, which all of us have probably heard a handful of times while here. However, I doubt that many of us have have ever given meaningful consideration to this offer. By applying the principles put forth, we can find guidance and purpose in our present lives and in the future.
The offer begins by encouraging us "to be at home in all lands and all ages." This will not be difficult for most Bowdoin students, as we tend to be people who are eager to meet new friends. But, just in case it escapes our first instinct, I think we should all attempt to share a Bowdoin hello even beyond the grounds of our campus. Next, "to count nature a familiar acquaintance, and art an intimate friend." The message here cannot be lost. We should all explore, inquire and discover the cultural elements of the places we find ourselves beyond Bowdoin. Whether you find yourself appreciating the breath taking views of the Costa Rican rainforest during a service internship, or visiting the Louvre on a weekend trip to Paris while you’re abroad, Bowdoin students are curious and seek to explore new places. Continuing, "To gain a standard for the appreciation of others’ work and the criticism of your own." Learn from those around you, receive support from those who offer, and be humble in every endeavor you can grow from. Although Bowdoin is a small school in Maine, the appreciation Bowdoin students have for global perspectives must not be forgotten. Stay informed, teach yourself on the happenings of the world around you, and most importantly never overlook the value of a good book. Our liberal arts education is invaluable and will provide us with a solid foundation to thrive in the future. Make hosts of friends who are to be leaders in all walks of life. The friendships we build will define many of the experiences we have; therefore a smile, kind word, and helping hand should be offered whenever possible. And finally, "lose yourself in generous enthusiasms. And cooperate with others for common ends." In other words, pursue passion, enjoy life as much as possible, and do not overlook the positive difference you can make in this world. This is the offer of Bowdoin College for the best four years of our lives, and if applied beyond Bowdoin, I believe these words of wisdom can guide us and prepare us for all of the challenges we might face. Hopefully, it will also enable us to reach our fullest capacity of success.