Letter from the Resident Head

IN THE SHADE OF THE CAMELTHORN TREES

 

IN FRONT of the MetLife some of our students are sitting in the shade, under the tree. This is where you will find them after lunch, before 15:00.

Max, an international student, has everyone in stiches, arguing that Hitler was not such a bad guy, killing fewer people than Stalin, Mao or Catherine the Great. And taking part in the debate are engineering, commerce and science students – all arguing about political history, morality and leadership.

This is what being a university is about: talking beyond our disciplines, listening to what others say and building outrageous (and courageous) arguments. Imagining new futures. Laughing. Changing our minds. Creating stories, and sharing familiar, old and sacred ones.

Maybe as resident head I should reproach them when the turquoise plastic chairs are carried out from the dining hall on to the lawn (and left there all day and all night long), but I do not. To me this is where the magic happens. This is the shared space where residents truly live and learn. Not in the building, but in the open; not at a desk, but under a tree. Not from a lecturer, but from one another.

Jy sou kon sê umfundi ngumfundi ngabafundi: ’n student is ’n student deur (die teenwoordigheid van) ander studente.

Want in ’n era waar inligting vrylik ge-Google word, is dit van meer belang om kennis krities te ondersoek as klakkeloos te herhaal; perspektiewe van mekaar te onderskei en met mekaar te versoen, eerder as om één waarheid aan te hang. Dit is goed om saans stil en ondergronds boeke oop te flap, ja, solank jy ook bedags saam in die skadu van die koelteboom kom sit.

Hier by Goldfields heers daar ’n gesonde balans, lyk dit my. Miskien is dit omdat ek betreklik nuut is, dat ek dit so duidelik raaksien: dat hier waarlik ’n gemeenskap is waar dit okay is om van mekaar te verskil; waar jy aangemoedig word om jouself uit te leef (vryheid) – solank jy as familie saam bly lag (eenheid); waar jy gehelp word om suksesvol te studeer (verantwoordelikheid) en mense wat anderste dink as jy waardeer (respek).

We gladly welcome 60-odd new residents to Goldfields every year, having just months before said goodbye to the group that graduated the year before. Until we meet again – wanneer ons vir reünies bymekaarkom om onse stories vir mekaar weer te vertel; om te beleef hoe één koshuis die oorgang van ’n land se verweefde geskiedenisse vooruitgegaan en help vorm het.

We open our doors during the heat of summer. The sun stings. But we invite you join us – to sit with us in the shade of the camelthorn trees.

 

André Müller

Goldfields Resident Head | Inwonende Hoof

aemuller@sun.ac.za