“We are a crew, not passengers, strengthened by acts of consequential service to others.”
I recently came across this quote from Outward Bound founder Kurt Hahn while touring a public charter school housed in an old church. The quote is all over the school as a reminder of the importance—the expectation—to get out of oneself, pick up an oar or a shovel, or your metaphoric choice, and get to work for the good of all. For me, it perfectly crystallized the key choice we all make when we get out of bed each morning: Are we crew, or passengers?
People talk about the “secret sauce” of St. Andrew’s. How do we bottle it? How do we explain it to prospective families? It’s a misleading notion. It’s not a sauce and it’s not a secret. It’s a lot of work and there are no shortcuts. The power of the St. Andrew’s community on campus and around the world is that it’s filled with people willing to wake up every day and work in consequential service for others.
One of the best parts of my week is ferrying students to Middletown’s Jean Birch Senior Center where they sit and talk with the center’s daily visitors. The contrast of the rides to and from the center are stark. On the way there it’s all about classes, or some issue they’re dealing with. On the way back it’s all stories and laughter and how much they love Dottie, or appreciate the life advice always offered. I won’t soon forget hearing about Warsaw-native Alex Phan ’19 speaking Polish with a Holocaust survivor. The students are most fully alive in these moments and you can feel their collective strength in the car.
Service to others can be as simple as holding the door open for others. You may know that our beloved Wawa chose not to install automatic doors in their stores because the interactions between strangers holding doors for each other created a feeling of warmth and goodness amidst purchasing gas and a bag of chips.
In a world filled with distractions and minute-by-minute “look at me” competitions, it’s all the more important, as Tad charges us to do every day, to fight for goodness. I’m inspired every day by the legacy of retired math teacher Dave DeSalvo, or alums like Tom Bauhan ’82 who will come to campus next week to discuss his work as an engineer for USAID in Afghanistan, or by countless other St. Andreans on campus and around the world who commit to being crew.
That real and consequential commitment is what makes us strong and what makes us St. Andrew’s, and what always makes me proud to be a Saint.
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