Endowment will transform Longwood

Published 2:27 pm Tuesday, November 29, 2016

During this season of giving, Longwood University has received possibly the most thoughtful gift a donor could bestow.

Joan and Macon Brock’s $5.9 million endowment to Longwood is going to affect the lives of students more than they understand just yet.

As an alumnus of the university and its study-away programs, I couldn’t be prouder. In fact, were it not for my own experiences of photographing in India and interviewing in Yellowstone National Park, I may not be here writing this column. The Brock Endowment for Transformational Learning will help develop more of the programs in which I was lucky enough to partake.

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During these trips, students are immersed in new, sometimes uncomfortable experiences that can far exceed any lessons taught on campus.

Concepts that seem one-sided or strictly scientific in the classroom suddenly take on a new life when examined on site.

“Should wolves have been reinstated in Yellowstone National Park” may seem unimportant or trivial on a PowerPoint, but when speaking on-site to stakeholders affected by the change, the answer becomes much less clear.

Photographing strangers who don’t speak your language or share your culture can humble the most confident photographers.

Possibly, though, it is the return home that solidifies the program’s effect. The period of reflection, led by the course’s professors, allowed my classmates and me to apply what was learned while away to our work here in Farmville.

It is these experiences that guide me as a journalist here. Issues here are just as complex as those studied abroad. Photographing strangers in town should be given the same care on Main Street as in New Delhi.

These courses, if run successfully, have the potential to create a generation of thoughtful and compassionate leaders, many of whom will return home to our town, ready to lead.

Carson Reeher is a staff writer for The Farmville Herald. Her email address is carson.reeher@farmvilleherald.com.