Being and becoming

SMUS-Views-Bob

When people ask me about my university degree, and I inform them, “English and Philosophy”, they nod as if it explains everything: I ended up doing just about the only thing that such training prepared me for: headmastering. At the moment I am in the Vancouver airport, delayed for four hours on my way to London, England. One of the traditional and deep tensions in philosophy is the debate between “being” and “becoming”, as if the two notions represent irreconcilable versions of existence instead of the elastic and unified reality of every day life. Airports and airplanes are the physical manifestation of this tension – a limbo where the future is really where you want to be, and the present is merely a vacuum waiting to be filled. More blog entries than I care to count have been written in airports and airplanes. A good use of time, actually.

I am on my way to London for our annual Alumni reception. We will have a good crowd at the Oxford and Cambridge Club, where our host will be Alexandra Richie, SMUS Class of 1981. Alex lives in Warsaw, and she has gone on to much greater things since I coached her on the Senior Girls Soccer team at SMUS in 1981. In addition to reading about her on the SMUS website (she is an Advisory Governor of the School), you can also read what The Economist wrote about her most recent piece of scholarship – also a bestseller. We’ll have a great crowd at our London reception. They represent the full constellation of reasons why I feel so proud of the paths our SMUS grads trace across the sky – confident on every stage in the world.

With me in the airport is our Director of University Counselling, Alison McCallum. Every year we send more than a handful of SMUS grads to university in the United Kingdom. Some years this number rivals the number of grads we send to US colleges. After attending our reception in London tomorrow night, Alison will visit Cambridge University, then Edinburgh, then St. Andrew’s, before returning to Edinburgh for the Conference of University Counsellors hosted by the Council of International Schools. In case you didn’t know it, in addition to having a meaningful relationship with the students and parents of SMUS,  our university counsellors also have to have a good relationship with the universities our students attend, so that they can pick up the phone and speak personally to university admissions officers who know our School.

About three weeks ago we received a letter from a Senior Tutor at Cambridge, about a SMUS grad of 2011, Mue I, a girl from Japan. In this letter the Senior Tutor praised Mue effusively, saying to us, “if you have any more students like her, we would be delighted to have them.” Likewise, the tutor of Keiler Totz, who graduated in 2013 and went to Cambridge as the Blyth Scholar, one of two from Canada that year, writes, “please send more like him.”

We intend to. What wonderful people our SMUS grads will be, what wonderful people they will become.

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Bob Snowden
Bob Snowden is Head of School at St. Michaels University School.

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