Here’s what I’ve thought lately. What if I made the claim:
William and Mary isn’t a place. It’s an idea.
Sure, there’s our arresting physical grounds, which popular national consensus agrees are amongst the nations’ most striking. There’s sunset over Gloucester Point from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. There’s the Crim Dell reflecting, always, kaleidoscopic, the world around it. There’s Wren – the oldest building of its kind – but without it, there would still be William and Mary.
The idea of William and Mary can’t be reduced to bricks and mortar. An ocean away from Wren, William and Mary was all around me during my spring semester. That’s because William and Mary is about connection – a robust, lifelong connection – and when William and Mary people gather, the College is wherever they are. This week, the College celebrated I Am W&M week.
In just the past two months, here are a few of the ways I’ve been William and Mary:
In February, fraternity brother Jake Schneider ’14 trained up from Oxford University to spend the weekend in Edinburgh. We hiked William and Mary to the very top of Arthur’s Seat overlooking the city.
Jake Schneider '14 in Edinburgh
The following week, I traveled for 4 days with Glasgow University graduate student Hayley Rushing ’11 – we were William and Mary all around the Isle of Skye. I noticed we inadvertently wore William and Mary to dinner. Me via tie and her via a cipher pendant.
Looking Haberdashing at Dinner
Just a few days after returning from Skye, I found myself walking William and Mary around the seaside outside of St Andrews with University of St Andrews graduate student Brittany Fallon ’11.
Fish and Chips and William and Mary
Five days after that, I flew out to Switzerland to visit study abroad student Madelyn Smith ’13, where we took William and Mary skiing in the Swiss Alps.
William and Mary in Switzerland
In Mid-March, over St Patrick’s Day week, I celebrated the green in William and Mary with friends Skyler Halbritter ’11 and Ryan Eickel ’10 as we took the College all over the Emerald Isle. Here’s William and Mary at the Cliffs of Moher.
William and Mary in Western Ireland
The following week, I met up with Welsh Assembly intern Allyson Zacharoff ’13 and we took William and Mary through the Scottish Parliament. Upon exiting, we were walking up the Royal Mile and found yet more William and Mary walking towards us, on spring break, in the form of Taylor Lain ’15.
Chance W&M encounters on the Royal Mile
That week I also found William and Mary in the form of English Professor Kim Wheatley as I was walking into Waverley train station and she was walking out of it on her way to go see W&M students in our St Andrews Joint Degree Program.
The following week (we’re now in late March) I grabbed an excellent lunch on a beautiful day in Edinburgh with Brian Wall J.D. ’11, a current University of Edinburgh Ph.D. candidate.
Then, just this past week, I hung out with William and Mary in Berlin and Potsdam, via an encore encounter with Madelyn Smith ’13 and Bulgarian Fulbrighter Michael Tsidulko ’11. Here’s William and Mary exploring the grounds of Sanssouci Palace.
W&M in Deutschland
Next week, I’m hosting French expat Allison Averbuch ’11 for four days of Scottish fun, and the week after that (after making a detour [pilgrimage?] via Warner Brother’s Harry Potter Studio outside of London w/ Hayley Rushing ’11) I’ll be heading back to the United States!
There’s a line from the College’s Hymn that remarks: Our hearts are with Thee, dear William and Mary, however far we stray.
And I think that’s just right, isn’t it? This connection is a powerful thing. It spans class years and continents.
From February through April – or anytime and anywhere – we are all William and Mary.