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Back at the Grebel table

Jennifer Konkle, Conrad Grebel University College
Waterloo, Ont. | Sep 23, 2015 | Volume 19 Issue 19

Fine arts student Margaret Gissing poses with a silverware sculpture she created with her father Gus Gissing, a Conrad Grebel University College alumnus. The sculpture represents the many people involved at Grebel and the different gifts they each bring to the table. (Photo by Jennifer Konkle)

Eager faces showing a little bit of nervousness arrived at Conrad Grebel University College on Labour Day for the new school year. Young adults from across Canada, as well as some international students, moved into the Grebel residence ready to study in a wide variety of programs, including music, engineering, applied health studies, peace and conflict studies, chemistry, religious studies, kinesiology and computer science, among many others. Met by friendly student leaders who had already memorized every name and face of incoming students (see front cover photo), this new cohort quickly learned how much of Grebel life is centred on community.

In addition to an action-packed week of get-to-know-you games, exploring the University of Waterloo campus, an all-college retreat and discovering the joy of the giant Grebel cookie, students participated in a commencement service. This service marked the official beginning of a new school year for the college. With peace and conflict studies, music and grad students, as well as faculty, staff, residents and associates, participating, the hour together was inspiring and energizing.

Building on Grebel’s new strategic plan, the theme for this year is “Extending the Grebel table.” President Susan Schultz Huxman shared her ideas, with a focus on cutlery. “Setting the table with a diversity of utensils is critical to who we are as an affiliate liberal arts college of the University of Waterloo,” said Huxman. “Your special attributes, your unique talents don’t count for much sometimes. And yet upon further reflection—in the company of others—you re-examine, re-boot and re-assess. You begin to see that your talents are impor-tant, valued and even necessary. We should zealously value the diverse attributes of others if we want to succeed as citizens, as experts in our field and as innovative entrepreneurs in society.”

As the “act of community” this year, several hanging sculptures made of cutlery were commissioned and representatives of each Grebel group added a decorative piece of silverware during the service. Each student was then given a Grebel fork to take home with the instruction: “Keep your fork! The best is yet to come!”

In closing, Huxman challenged the student body: “I encourage you to think boldly and ask yourself: How can I extend the Grebel table? How can I engage around the table with a diversity of people and ideas?”

See the Focus on Education stories, “Enrolment up in Mennonite universities” and “Back to class.” 

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