The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Of gratitude and global citizenship

By Helen Warren

Some of Macalester’s liveliest discussions arise from efforts by faculty and students to define what it means to be a global citizen. There is no disagreement that intellectual agility is required, including enough mental floorspace to walk around and inspect beliefs to which we do not (now) give assent. For my part, I nominate the ability to feel and express gratitude as a capacity all global citizens should develop. This nomination is a consequence of the work I do to connect students to donors who fund their scholarships and because I pay close attention to public addresses made by Hector Pascual Alvarez ’08, the 2008 recipient of Macalester’s Global Citizenship Award.

While gratitude seems like a simple thing, it is not. It is hard to express regard for a stranger who provides financial aid so you can attend Macalester. It’s hard to describe what the gift means because its true consequences are not yet fully known.

It’s hard to step around the platitudes and clichés that come to mind most readily and make a genuine statement about the generosity of strangers. And it is hard to find the quiet moments in the midst of all the studying, the research, the academic writing, the activism, the conviviality with friends, to think where you might be had scholarships not been available.

Though it is hard, it can be done superbly. Recently, I asked Hector Pascual Alvarez to make brief remarks at a campus event attended by Shelby Davis, the benefactor who provides financial aid to Macalester students who are graduates of the United World Colleges. It was an imposition, a request that came shortly before the event, when Hector was deep in rehearsals for a play, and had a dozen other projects under way. But Hector accepted the challenge and offered these simple words to our honored guests:

“When I think about your generosity, I imagine you standing at the back of the room, past the audience I am addressing, smiling and silently urging me to do my best with the gifts I have been given. I will look up and imagine you standing there throughout my life. Thank you.”

Hector’s words are memorable because they transform an impersonal exchange into a vital human encounter, resonant with aspirations that connect us to strangers. No matter how different we are from each other or how much we might disagree, gratitude connects us to the generosity of others. To be grateful is itself a generous gesture, not required but essential.

As the academic year draws to a close, I hope Macalester students will take every opportunity to express their gratitude for those who stand at the back of their lives, urging them on. It is especially important to express gratitude to those you do not know well or at all. Their generosity to students they do not know deserves acknowledgment.

Contact Helen Warren, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, at [email protected].

View Comments (3)
More to Discover

Comments (3)

All The Mac Weekly Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • W

    Wanda AndersonSep 12, 2019 at 1:22 am

    Along with every thing that appears to be building within this subject material, all your viewpoints tend to be relatively radical. Even so, I appologize, but I do not subscribe to your whole strategy, all be it radical none the less. It would seem to me that your opinions are generally not entirely justified and in simple fact you are generally yourself not completely certain of your point. In any event I did appreciate looking at it.

  • C

    Christopher BlakeSep 10, 2019 at 6:47 pm

    Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any tips and hints for rookie blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

  • D

    Diana RobertsonSep 6, 2019 at 3:48 am

    I know this website presents quality depending content and extra information, is there any other web site which provides these kinds of stuff in quality?