As college students, sometimes we think we know everything. We go to class and learn about things we consider absolutely cutting edge and revolutionary. We think we are smarter than everyone else.
I especially notice this trend in the field of journalism.
We tend to think that because we watch CNN all day and read every newspaper we can get our hands on, we are somehow smarter than others who are not keeping Knight Ridder in operation with our business.
Thankfully, we all have opportunities to be brought down a level as I was on Tuesday.
As part of the fulfillments for my honors senior seminar, my instructor Barbara Jefferson, facilitated a trip to Hillcrest Homes to visit with alumni from ULV.
For those who do not know, Hillcrest Homes is where many ULV alumni reside. They graduated together and kept in touch throughout the years, all living in the surrounding area. Now, they have reached a different place in their lives and are in a retirement living situation.
These La Verne graduates are infinitely smarter than I am and I felt privileged to hear their stories. At our meeting, they were quick, bright, educated and up to date on national and international news.
This might not sound exciting or even interesting, but it was possibly the best information and advice I have received all semester.
Charles Butterfield, class of 1942, shared with our class that throughout life, everyone is faced with a disaster. What is important is how ready we are to deal with disaster when it comes. Equally important, he said, was how quickly a disaster is dealt with and how one recovers from the disaster.
Dwight Hanawalt, class of 1941 expressed his thoughts on the media coverage of the twin towers falling. The repetitive broadcasts on the news were too much. Images like this he said, are what caused such overwhelming reaction from people.
I sat and listened as elders talked about their memories of Pearl Harbor and how the mass media was not available in the way it is today. I was surprised to hear the alumni say that public reaction to Pearl Harbor and the World Trade Center attacks were similar. People rushed to donate blood, time and resources, just as they are today.
I sat with the ULV alumni during dinner as we ate in the Hillcrest dining hall, and wondered if I would be doing the same thing when I reach their age.
I would say that chances are slim.
A lot of my friends from ULV are from out-of-state or from distant parts of California, and I cannot imagine all of them taking up residence in the surrounding areas the way the alumni I met with Tuesday did. In a way I envy the alumni and how they have kept in close contact all these years.
Another alumni who talked with us was Mary Smeltzer, class of 1937, (yes, that year is correct).
Mary told us she firmly believes that Pearl Harbor was completely different from the attack on New York because with Pearl Harbor, the enemy was easily identifiable. Mary also said that she thinks that the United States should cut its military in half, and the money should be used to feed and clothe poor people around the world and then maybe the U.S. would not be hated so much.
Other alumni disagreed and the conversation drifted around the room while I listened to the opinions of people who had lived through war before.
My visit to Hillcrest opened my eyes to the fact that generations besides my own are thinking about what is happening in the world and they have valuable input to contribute to those who are willing to listen.
My experience visiting ULV alumni at Hillcrest was great. I only wish that throughout my college years I had more opportunities to learn outside the classroom. I encourage teachers on this campus to find alternative ways to educate their students. A lot can be learned outside the classroom with immeasurable value.
Christine Owen, a senior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.