Monday, February 4, 2013

The Inheritance of Virtue

by Chang S., Panther Blogger

It was near midnight when we saw Zhen off. He graduated and left Ferrum, the place where he devoted four years of time. He said it might be the last time he felt the grasslands at Ferrum, and he said he'll miss those lands.

From my perspective, part of being an international student at Ferrum is seeing off seniors like Zhen or the exchange students, along with welcoming new international students. I have already seen three seniors off in one whole year.  And here, three is not as small a number as you might think. We are a small, but close-knit group. We come from different parts of the world:  China, Ethiopia, Northern Ireland, Kenya, Russia, and South Korea.  It is easy to recognize us from the crowds.

The majority of us speak English with a "unique" accent, and in many circumstances, we have difficulty expressing what we want. You might come across one of us in the food court, stammering and trying to order a meal. But those efforts should be respected because they show that we're trying to be a part of the community. The locals should also be respected as they are friendly and try to accept the awkward attempts of the international students. Among these locals, we especially appreciate our advisor, Sasha, Professor Johnson, and the theatre folks. They have been treating us with the greatest generosity, and they build us a home overseas.

I came across a picture of some of the international students and me. The picture was taken on a hiking trip last year when we reached the tip of the mountain. The clear, blue sky formed a perfect harmony with the Blue Ridge Mountains. One of the memorable parts about this trip was that it was organized by Mr. Rene Reiner, who had been a former international student at a college in Roanoke and who took on the U.S. nationality a couple of years after he graduated.

Rene told us:  "...When you are my age, you may have a nice job...a fortune. Spend some time with the international students, someone like yourselves as you once were."  Folks like Rene showed their kindness and hung out with him when he was new to the country. Rene had a great time with those locals. He was moved, and so in turn, he wanted to share his time with us - the next generation of internationals. Similar to the way people hold doors for the people after them, even tiny actions pay off.  Seniors receive kindness from their friends, either from native people or from other internationals, and they pass the kindness to those who follow them. Generations and generations on.

Inheritance of virtue -- one of the best things about humanity, I suppose.

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