The Voice: Summer 2003

The Voice

Notes from the alumni office

Setting sail
By: Judy Hagey, Director of Alumni Relations

A few years ago, as the “empty nest” years appeared on the horizon, my husband and I decided to spend some of our anticipated free time sailing. We had sailed during our dating years at a summer camp, but since then work and family responsibilities have occupied most of our lives. After a thirty-year hiatus from matching wits with wind and water, some re-learning was in order. We borrowed books and watched videos. We read Sailing for Dummies.

On a sunny Saturday we made our way to a secluded boat ramp on a secluded lake to see if our newly-repaired boat was in fact seaworthy.

Rigging completed and a soft breeze at our backs we set off. What a thrill to be moving across the water with only the wind in the sails. We gained confidence as we moved across the lake aiming for different landmarks. But the real test of a sailor comes when he/she heads back into the wind. The sailor who fails to stay “in the zone” quickly finds him or herself “in irons”—that precarious position where the boat is headed directly into the wind, unable to capture the wind in the sails, and drifting backward, out of control.

Sailing for Dummies insists that every first-time sailor gets caught in irons—and we did, too. Thanks to a friendly fisherman who towed us away from shore, we were able to tack back into the wind and make our way safely back to shore.

The class of 2003 is about to set sail from Dordt College. While I’m far from an expert sailor, our experience provides some teachable moments for life.

Seize the moment and make the most of opportunities. Ideal sailing conditions don’t come along every day—especially in Northwest Iowa. When they do, my husband and I have come to the realization that we need to be willing to step away from more pressing demands and take advantage of clear skies and balmy weather. It’s easy to get caught up in the spiraling demands of 21st century living. Opportunity may come when you least expect it. Be ready to change direction and make the most of the opportunities that come your way.

With apologies to Nike—just do it. We could and probably should have spent a bit more time studying the principles of sailing. But at some point, actually hoisting the sails and handling the tiller are the best way to learn. Experience is an excellent teacher. As new graduates, you may be feeling like you’re not quite ready to step into the workplace; that there are still some things you need to know. But at this point—with sixteen years of formal education behind you—it’s time to do it. Step into the classroom or the office confident in the knowledge you’ve gained, but recognize, too, that at some point you may find yourself “in irons.” The challenge will be finding a way to get moving again and having the grace to consider that, too, a learning experience.

Look for a reliable guide or mentor. From the time we decided to take up sailing, we sought the advice and counsel of an experienced sailing friend. He told us what to look for in a boat, loaned us books, and helped us sort through the tangle of lines and equipment when we first practiced rigging. While experience is a great teacher, learning from the successes and failures of others is an equally valuable education. Seek out someone who is willing to share what they’ve learned through trial and error and to be a listening ear for the challenges you are sure to face. Few of us make it through life without the sympathetic ear and the wise counsel of a trusted friend.

As you set sail from Dordt College, my prayer for you is expressed well in the words of this Irish blessing: May your joys be as deep as the oceans, your troubles as light as its foam.

And may you find sweet peace of mind, wherever you may roam.

Alumni House
Beginning July 1 the Alumni Guest House is open to campus visitors. The newly renovated home has three guest bedrooms and two baths, a great room, kitchen, dining room and sun room. It is also home to our growing collection of college and alumni memorabilia in the Heritage Room. We still welcome your donations of photos, items, and stories of human and historical interest to Dordt College alumni and friends.

While the house is open to any campus guests, we want to encourage alumni, parents, youth leaders, and others who have contact with prospective students to bring those students to campus and be our guest for a night or two. All alumni are eligible for special rates whether they use one or two bedrooms, or the whole house. The house is also available to the campus community for department gatherings, receptions, or committee meetings. Contact the alumni office to make reservations.

Meet the caretakers
Guests can look forward to a warm welcome from caretakers, Leann (Veenstra) and Lance Nunnikhoven. Leann is a student in the health sciences program. She expects to complete the program and graduate in 2004. Lance (ex’04) works at Greenworld in Sioux Center. The basement hasbeen remodeled into an attractive and spacious apartment, providing a home for the caretakers. The Nunnikhovens are looking forward to meeting many alumni and friends of Dordt College.

Preparing for Jubilee
In fifteen months Dordt College will kick off a year-long celebration of fifty years as an institution of Reformed higher education. Jubilee! A wide array of activities are planned under the theme, “It’s the Perspective: Remembering, Celebrating, and Sharing the Vision.”

Our celebration will take place in constituent communities across North America. The highlight of these events will be a multi-media production featuring the kingdom contributions of eight alumni while telling the Dordt College story through a series of dramatic vignettes.

The Grand Finale will take place on campus beginning July 1 and continuing through Sunday morning worship on July 3, 2005. Mark your calendars now and plan to join us for this celebration.

In preparing for Jubilee, we want to update our records, so we can contact everyone who has been part of Dordt’s history. You can expect to see the triennial survey in your mailbox soon. Your prompt reply will ensure that you stay informed about all the campus news, including plans for the Jubilee celebration. We hope that many of you will also agree to help in some way with the various events and activities that are planned—calling your friends and encouraging them to come, helping to plan an event for your class, or maybe even getting your old “combo” together for old times sake.

On-line Community
Thanks to the grant from the Lilly Endowment, we expect to create an on-line community later this fall. An on-line community will give password-secured access to the alumni directory, enabling alumni to keep in direct touch with each other.

We hope many of you will also choose to participate in a second level of information-sharing—making your employment information available to alumni and students and making yourself available for networking, mentoring, and job shadowing. Other features of our on-line community may include bulletin boards, chat rooms, and other ways to carry on conversation with colleagues and friends around the world.