Archive for July, 2011

Last Day and Reflections

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Well, our trip concluded three weeks ago. I decided to wait a little while before this final post to try and digest some of what we experienced and reflect a little on what we picked up along the way.

But first, a quick recap of our last day.

Our one and only stop for the day (surrounded by a few hours of driving) was the Clearview Golf Club in Canton, Ohio; the only course to be designed, built, owned, and operated by an African-American.  The late William Powell’s goal for the course was to make it a place where anyone was welcome and could play.  He was able to accomplish this despite significant opposition, and unfortunately is still the only African-American to hold this distinction.  While there we had the chance to meet his daughter, Renee Powell, who is an accomplished golfer and is now the head golf professional at Clearview.  We also were able to learn more about the history of the course and about Mr. Powell and his work.  Overall it was an enjoyable final stop of the tour and a reminder of how comprehensive the effects of racism and prejudice are.

Renee Powell helps Bernardo perfect his golf swing!

Renee Powell helps Bernardo perfect his golf swing!

After the bus returned to Beaver Falls, we loaded into the van and returned to Messiah.  Needless to say the discussion on the way back was pretty heavy; it was interesting hearing the thoughts, stories, and experiences that everyone took away from the trip.  It was also a little frustrating as we began to dig in to the highly complex question of where do we go from here and how does it apply to our group and our institution.  These are questions I’m still working on myself.  An obvious beginning, I suppose, is that the stories and realities of our nation’s past, no matter how painful, cannot be allowed to be forgotten and must be faced.

“The truth will set you free…”

I know, kind of an overused statement, but still 100% accurate, especially in this case.  Obviously my experience is extremely limited, but the only efforts at reconciliation that I have seen actually work are those that start by digging deeper into the realities of what we have glazed over and chosen to forget.  It’s a dangerous thing to dredge these things up, but the process of healing and reconciliation for all involved is more then worth it.  The hard part is finding a space to be able to initiate such a discussion, especially in a time and place where it is much easier to choose to think that we have come far enough and don’t need to agitate the situation.

In any event, this trip was a good way to get a better glimpse of everything that I missed but benefit from.  It has prompted me to look deeper into my own history to see what I have been missing within my own background, as well as made me more aware and more thankful for the luxuries that I do have that others paid for.  If any of you ever have the chance to take this trip or one similar to it, I would strongly encourage you not to miss that chance.  I know if I get another chance I’ll be all over it.  :-)

-V

"If we have honestly acknowledged our painful but shared past, then we can have reconciliation."