Class of '73
Dear Fellow Classmates of the Class of 1973,
When I look out the window at the thermometer and see that it is below zero, it could be a Minnesota winter. But here in West Central Finland, it is different. Being close to the Arctic Circle brings a new essence to the conversation when talking about arctic winds. The sun, when it appears, rises about 0900 and usually sets after 1600. As you can well imagine, everybody is waiting for midsummer and the midnight sun. I must say, though,that the Aurora Borealis, Northern Lights, or Revontulet (Finnish) are amazing. Special glass huts have been built as part of hotels in Lapland where people come from as far as Japan to see this natural festival of lights. Since Finland claims itself to be the home of Santa Claus, the tourists flock to northern Finland. In one week before Christmas, over 50,000 British tourists alone came to Finland. So if you ever want to leave Minnesota cold, or California warm, know that you are welcome to Finland.
I enjoy living in this coastal bilingual city of Pietarsaari/Jakobstad. My roots run deep here and our family tree goes back to the 1500s. We are celebrating the 350th anniversary of our city this year. Our home church here was built in 1767. The other Lutheran church at the other end of town was built in 1290. It is awesome.
The attack on America happened on my father's 85th birthday. We were glued to the TV screen as were most of the rest of the world. I knew that Gusties would help and in reading the last Quarterly, I realized that I was right. We have a great extended family at Gustavus. Sometimes the love and concern that come from students, alumni, staff, and faculty can seem to be overwhelming...but as you may know, as I do, that is the Gustavus we love. I will never be able to forget Gustavus and what it means to me. While pondering what I would write to you, it struck me that for four years, the hill and Gustavus was our home. We worked, learned, and played there. Many of you fell in love and met the person of your dreams and you share your lives with them still. Lifelong friendships were made.
The old addage is that you can never go home. However when the home is Gustavus, we can always go back whether it is to the official homecoming or a stop-off on one's way through St. Peter to retrace steps of memories from our youth.
In going home, we also respond to the need for keeping our home in good order. What is needed, first and foremost, is our prayers. Prayers for Gustavus, the students, faculty, staff, and fellow alumni. God has blessed Gustavus immensely after the tornado and I don't believe He will stop blessing it now. Next, we can give of ourselves. Though we may be far away from Gustavus like I am, Gustavus can still use our gifts of time and talents.
Whether helping with students on campus or being involved with Gusties in Volunteer Endeavors (G.I.V.E.). It is an annual day of community service where Gustavus alumni, parents and friends around the country, yeah and maybe the world, work to better their communities. Since its creation in 1996, G.I.V.E. has involved several thousand Gusties working in twenty different cities. Karen Bukósky Snedeker and Marcia Stephens participated in the Twin Cities workday. For those of our class in the Twin Cities area, there will be another G.I.V.E. workday on Saturday, April 27.
Of course, there is another aspect of our lives, stewardship. Yes, this is where the pastor in me comes out. I never preach about money from the pulpit, but since I am at my computer and not in the pulpit, I can now do so. As I do, I remember a part of the liturgy as found in the Green Hymnal or the Lutheran Book of Worship. It is a prayer which is as follows, "Merciful Father, we offer with joy and thanksgiving what you have first given us―ourselves, our time, and our possessions, signs of your gracious love. Receive them for the sake of him who died for us, Jesus Christ our Lord."
Maybe you, like I, do not have a million to give (dollars or euros), but as with the widow's mite, it is just as big a gift when it comes from the heart. Wouldn't a gift to your major's department, a choir or band, the sports program bring smiles to a student or a professor? Old Main is facing restoration and we can respond with our giving. Unfortunately, alumni giving has decreased in recent years. Therefore the 50 by 50 program has been introduced to increase alumni participation to 50 percent by the 50th anniversary of the Alumni Fund in 2004. The goal is to increase alumni participation by five percent each year for the next three years. You may give online at: http://gustavus.edu/giving/ Thanks for your continued support of our Alma Mater. Let us show the other classes what the class of 1973 is capable of doing.
January is soon ending and so will January Term. Remember those Januaries? Trips abroad, or quiet peaceful times on campus. This year's January theme at Gustavus is "Global Village."
- Joanne McConnell is teaching K-6 music at St. Wenceslaus School in New Prague. She recently sold her house in Belle Plaine and puchased a "cute two bedroom rambler built in 1955." Grandchild #7 is on the way or may even be here by now. Joanne states, "Grandchildren are so much fun!"
- Gail Johnson Speckmann's book on watercolors has been reprinted. She is teaching classes at art centers in her area.
- Bonnie Nelson Ripplinger is on the Board of Directors for Camp of the Cross, a youth church camp.
- Deborah Jean Templin will be doing rotating repertory in the 36th summer stock season of the Barn―The Weathervane Theatre in Whitefield, NH, from June 25 to August 25. For more information go to www.weathervanetheatre.org.
- Brenda Footh Duyan and her husband, Scott, are empty nesters in Napa, CA. Scott will start the Blue Oak School in Napa (see www.blueoakschool.org). Brenda is looking for some time off and plans to learn more about watercolors...in the vineyards!
It has been good to share this time by my computer with you. I hope and pray that you and your loved ones are well and blessed. Take care and let Marcia know of what's going on in your lives!
Let's have a round of applause for Marcia who continues to keep us so well informed. God bless you!
Mark Juhan Sallmen
1973 Guest Letter Writer
P.S. Now for some news from the campus written by a Gusties student:
Hi! My name is Tracey Hanson. I’m a senior, double majoring in Communication Studies and Business Management. I’ve worked in the Alumni Office all four years and can hardly believe that I’m in the middle of my last J-Term! After a longer-than-usual Christmas break, it’s great to be back on campus. Instead of taking a class (and doing homework) this J-Term, I’m spending my time slaving away in the Alumni Office. It’s great to have the extra time to relax and do other activities that J-Term allows. Having unlimited time at home each night has made for some great cooking! And getting to watch “Friends” without worrying about the homework you should be doing instead is also a plus!
The campus is full of life and excitement. The theme for J-Term 2002 is "Our Global Village," and the month will be a celebration of cultural diversity as we grapple with social, political, economic and philosophical aspects of our ever-shrinking world neighborhood. Faculty are offering 29 different classes that tie into this global theme, many of which are travel courses. Examples include Islam and Culture, and Chinese Cooking and Culture. This year, 2319 students are enrolled in J-Term courses, with many studying abroad, participating in internships, student teaching or studying at other domestic institutions. I get very jealous when I read e-mails from my roommates who are studying in warm, sunny Australia. J-Term themes for the coming years include “Service-Learning” (2003) and “Undergraduate Research.” (2004).
Winter athletics are also in full swing! Gustie teams are off to a great start and all are near the top in the MIAC.
Gustie music ensembles are also very busy. The Gustavus Band will embark on an international tour this J-Term. The band is touring Sweden and Norway, presenting “Music from America.” The tour dates are January 16 through February 10. The tour concludes with a homecoming performance at 4 p.m. Feb. 10 in Christ Chapel. The Gustavus Choir is busy preparing for their tour of the Midwest during Touring Week in February, concluding with their home concert Feb. 16 in Christ Chapel. The Gustavus Orchestra will tour Minnesota, the Dakotas, Colorado, Kansas and Iowa.
You are invited and encouraged to attend these upcoming alumni events:
February 2 Chicago Chapter event - 6:00 p.m. dinner, 7:30 p.m.
Gustavus Choir Concert
Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, 815 S. Washington St., Naperville, IL
February 16 Naples Chapter event - Naples Beach Club
851 Gulf Shore Boulevard, Naples
11:30 a.m. social, 12:30 p.m. luncheon
February 17 Vero Beach Chapter event - Dawn (Ekstrom ’67) and Ted Michael residence
2506 Ocean Drive, Vero Beach
12:30 p.m. social, 1:30 p.m. luncheon
March 7 San Diego Chapter event
March 8 Tucson Chapter gathering
March 9 Phoenix Chapter gathering
March 10 Sun City Chapter gathering
More information will be sent to alumni and friends in these chapter areas.
RSVP to Alumni Office at 800-487-8437 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
As I prepare to graduate in June, I find it increasingly hard to think about leaving this place. It hardly seems possible that four years have flown by, and that in six months I, too, will be considered an alum. I will always carry with me fond memories of my four years here. GO GUSTIES!!!