Disproportionate love for your community

By Gayatri Sarin

At the conclusion of a recent flight back to snowy Saint Paul, I found myself in the very last row of seats on the aircraft, idly waiting for the rows of passengers in front of me to disembark. Casually observing the people struggling to handle their small, but incredibly heavy hand baggage, I gathered my luggage and edged closer to the aisle.Just then I noticed an elderly Indian couple (An Indian can always spot another Indian) looking utterly bewildered at the speed at which people were moving around them. Being unable to successfully gather the momentum to merge into the exit aisle, they were stuck hovering near their seats, bags clutched in arms. Their apparent despair evoked an immediate reaction from me, as I instantly lost interest in my baggage and destination, and taking custody of their bags (an introduction somehow seemed irrelevant) parted the line to help them out of the aircraft.

Although the couple was neither too old nor too frail, I had taken it upon myself to be of the utmost assistance to them, happily wheeling their luggage across the length of the airport to the taxi and baggage claim area.

As I waved goodbye to this sweet pair, gushing with happiness, I began to think about how over-the-top my reaction to them had been. I mean, I certainly have helped the random person in distress before, but it takes a long time away from my densely populated hometown of Mumbai for me to be filled with such a warm and fuzzy feeling for my fellow countrymen and their bags. This isn’t the first time I have noticed this sudden change of heart when I see someone from my community in another corner of the globe.There is something about belonging to a community and being reminded of it in a distant place that fills people with a disproportionate love and appreciation for their roots.

After working in the Annual Fund’s Call Center for a few years, I am convinced that this must be what motivates the incredible generosity that Macalester alumni extend toward their alma mater. Their support benefits current and future Macalester students and strengthens our community. Many students scoff at the possibility of writing a check to the college after they graduate. From their student loan repayments, to career uncertainty, I used to sympathize. But, there are more than 8,000 Mac alumni, with all shapes and sizes of income that are happy to forgo the occasional luxury to support Mac and by definition the students that go here.

Despite the fact that most of us will never meet these extraordinary benefactors of ours, we should be appreciative of their support. This week, we acknowledged the fact that philanthropy kicks in after “Tuition Runs Out,” which marks the point in the academic year when Macalester’s expenses outpace its revenue from tuition and fees. This implies that from this week forward, Macalester relies entirely on the financial support of alumni, benefactors and the endowment to keep the show going through May 31.

Macalester donors deserve thanks and celebration for their disproportionate love of our community.

Gayatri Sarin can be reached at [email protected].