Charlottesville

Thank you Deane Bowers for sharing what my daughter witnessed from afar during her time at Virginia Tech, where tragedy hit before she arrived. You’d think this generation would be traumatized. Instead they detach and move on. I hope they read their history, keep souvenirs from the toughest times, heal wounds, do good, and never forget:

As I hug our youngest daughter good bye and send her off to begin her 4th year at The University of Virginia, I reflect on some of the life changing and often horrifying experiences she and her fellow 4th year classmates have experienced while students at UVA. Just to name a few, it was not even a month into their first year, when these brand new, bright eyed, eager students were faced with the brutal abduction, rape and murder of Hannah Graham. A month after that, the Rolling Stone Magazine debacle exploded. Six months later, there was the violent arrest of Martese Johnson by several overzealous ABC agents. And in the winter of 2016, these same college students learned about the violent and unlawful imprisonment of one of their own in North Korea. And just as these students begin to recover from the devastating news of Otto’s cruel death by the worlds most evil dictator, they think they have experienced the worst. Then August 11th and 12th 2017 happens. Their beautiful and sacred Grounds and Rotunda , and their equally attractive college town become center stage to extreme ugliness, hate and racism by hundreds of tiki torch carrying narrow minded white supremacists.

So as I embrace my daughter one last time and wish her a successful school year, I realize how courageous, wise, mature and perceptive she and her fellow 4th year classmates have become. Yes, they have had their share of normal college fun, but no, they aren’t frivolous, self centered and self absorbed college kids. They have grown into leaders and they have shown true grit in the face of one horrific tragedy after another, yet they won’t let any of these life altering events terminally dampen their spirits, define them or define their University. I am certain the University of Virginia, the City of Charlottesville as well as many others can depend on them for their strength, grace, compassion, leadership, and resilience in the months to come. #UVA#Charlottesville #LoveRules #4thYearClass #Leaders

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A week of joy and gratitude

Qatar Airways #707 arrived at Washington Dulles Intl (KIAD) at 03:38PM EDT from Hamad Int’l (OTHH/DOH)

A huge sigh of relief to see this message in my email again this morning: that Sarah Austen arrived home from another adventure. I did not fear the country of Armenia nor Doha where, due to a delayed flight/missed flight, she spent the night in a glorious 5-star hotel, king size bed, gourmet breakfast, took a walk around the market with two guys she had just met, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I suppose i feared the steotype of the Middle East; the possibility of harrassment of Americans; the incessant random terrorism in the world. I knew all would be well…yet admit that I feared for her life ,too.

She joined her cousin Stu (married to Christy) in Armenia for a Fuller Center week of building a house for a poor family, a bit of touring, and bonding with 6 others, who share her passion for international experiences and doing a bit of good for the world. She particularly adores Stu who brings joy and enery to every moment and Lois, the 80-year old woman from San Franciso. She said she reminds her of Gramma.  They plastered the walls of a home being built for a young couple and their two children about an hour from Yerevan, Armenia. They stayed in a nice hotel in the city with wifi, a gym, and near to restaurants and a beautiful fountain that lights up at night, surrounded by people.

This week also included a visit from a student from Medellin, Colombia. Lucas Ledezma plays the clarinet, just like Adrian, and is staying with us for ten days. He is fun, appreciative, cleans up after himself and is really a joy to have around. We took him to Emilios for jazz on open-mic night. He played and the crowd loved him.

On the day that Lucas arrived, we also picked up a puppy in Staunton (from Windy Hill Pups in Lebanon, Virginia). A Maltipoo like Wiggy-May: hypo-allergenic, happy, and just so darn cute. We named her Lucin, which means “moon” in Armenian. We call her Lucy (when she’s in trouble) and Lulu for fun. Lucas says that the most common names for dogs in Colombia are his names: Lucas and Mateo. So she’s named in Lucas’s honor, too.

Settling in to week #2 with Lucas, Lulu and Sauce home and ready for work. She works at Stella’s Lafayette Market and had a promising interview with the Virginia Film Office.