What it means to be a Mountaineer

Saturday, March 8, 2014

I hope you are looking forward to the break away from classes, exams and projects. I truly hope you are able to rest and relax during this mid-point of the semester.

I recently returned from a nine-day trip to Rwanda, Africa with a few members of our community, and visited with orphans who are part of an empowerment program called ZOE. Rwanda reminded me of Boone and our community in many ways. The rolling hills, the mountain terrain, and elevation of roughly 5,800 feet made me feel like I was in Western North Carolina, nestled along a hidden part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The orphans that I met also reminded me of many things as well. They live at extreme poverty levels, they work hard, many have experienced great loss, and - like us - they have a story. One of the things that I have taken away from my visit to Rwanda is how these orphans are a part of a community thanks to the ZOE program. They know what it means to be a part of something greater than themselves, something that is supportive and caring. Again, I am reminded of what it means to be a Mountaineer - an Appalachian State University Mountaineer.

In Rwanda, I saw many examples of giving, both large and small, and every gift matters; every act of kindness matters, as do each of you. I am grateful for the many ways so many of you look out for one another in subtle and caring ways. This year, a fellow student saw a blog post where another student was talking of suicide. That person intervened and saved a life. Several others have reported different students stumbling around campus intoxicated, and once again intervened. In response to a recent call for food donations by a staff member to help students who are struggling to make ends meet, I was overwhelmed with your response. Again, you came through - with boxes and boxes of food for those in need.

So, whether you are picking up extra shifts at work, embarking on an alternative service trip, staying home or traveling, we want you to get some rest and be safe during the break. Our community needs you to come back home safe, rested and ready to contribute to this community over the final few weeks of the semester. Regardless of what you do, I hope some of these tips are helpful to allow you to return to campus rested, and most importantly safe.

Please remember, any situation that threatens physical harm to yourself or another student should be assessed carefully. Call the police if you need help to defuse the situation.

Enjoy the time away from classes, and be safe,

J.J. Brown
Dean of Students