Tuesday, June 29, 2010

all school reunion

Last Saturday, about twenty UAC-CP graduates and former students gathered for an informal reunion in Caranavi--a hot and dusty town located three hours from the College where many students call home and many graduates have settled in their post-collegiate lives. It was the first of what I hope will be many more gatherings of a recently formed (and in-the-process-of-developing) alumni association.

UAC-CP graduates, former students, their kids, and me gather in Caranavi.

Sitting around the patio of a local hotel as their children splashed and dashed in and out of the pool, old UAC-CP friends (and new!) did what all people do at college reunions--they reconnected. They updated each other on their lives and reminisced about the past. Two things were particularly on peoples' minds: UAC-CP founder Sr. Damon Nolan and the College.

"How is Sr. Damon?" everyone wanted to know. It created a way for me to pull my visiting, non-Spanish-speaking friend Stacy Rooney into the conversation, as she had recently seen Sr. Damon at Carmen Pampa Fund's Fiesta de Ayni in May. "Sr. Damon sends her love," was the message we share...along with her e-mail address.

Former UAC-CP Education students catch up on life.

And people asked about the College. Graduates wanted to know about the new advanced-degree program, former students wanted to know more about the business plan alternative to the thesis requirement for graduation, and everyone wanted to know about student life, in general.

I found myself in several conversations with people talking about the mission of the College. "Apart from knowing the mission and understanding the mission, it's important for us to live the mission," UAC-CP Agronomy graduate Leyla Yujra told me. "That's what I learned. And, I think, more than anything, that's what sets the College apart from other institutions."

It was also an optimal time for me to hand out graduate surveys that we are circulating to gather more information about UAC-CP post-graduate work. The surveys, which collect basic information like phone numbers and e-mail addresses, also inquire about graduates' work. "We need to evaluate how UAC-CP graduates are responding to the mission," I explained.

UAC-CP Agronomy graduate Juan Suñiga with his two sons (not pictured: his wife is UAC-CP Agronomy graduate Leyla Yujra).

"My life would have turned out very differently [had I not studied at the UAC-CP]," wrote one graduate in the comments section of the survey. "At the College I learned so many precious and valued things--life lessons that were imbedded in the mission and vision of the UAC-CP. It's with pride and joy that I give thanks for everything that I received at the College." She also said it's thanks to her education that she is independent and able to look for and find work to support the rural area.

I hope the reunion is the first of many to come as they will serve as informal ways of keeping our graduates connected--across the generations--and it will keep those of us who work at the UAC-CP close to the lives of the people we have shared a part in watching grow. Their work, I remind them, reflects the success of our work here in Carmen Pampa.

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