On the night of Nov. 4, I attended the Pittsburgh Opera at the Benedum Center. The show was The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart and da Ponte. The trip was sponsored by the Honors Program, so there were several students and faculty of Saint Vincent College in attendance.
There’s something infinitely enriching about discovering that there is a wealth of culture right in your backyard. Dr. McMahon decided to take our Honors Systematic Theology Class out for Thai food as a cultural enrichment.
You really don’t know what the depths of your own humanity are capable of until you find yourself crying for the suffering of a distant other with whom you share nothing but humanity.
When you want to save the world but are not sure where to start, a good question to begin with is “what makes people sad?” I'm not sure how it started in my case, but it led me to write my senior thesis on female genital mutilation. Nothing about this is happy. The practice is ethically reprehensible and rather uncomfortable to talk about, which made it the perfect topic for a philosophy paper. My argument against any cultural justification for the practice is supported by the capabilities approach, a theoretical framework which affirms that anything that hinders basic human capabilities is morally evil.
When I first heard that the Honors Program was returning to the symphony this year, I remembered what an amazing experience the symphony had been last March. I thought to myself, “There’s no way they can top Sebelius.” But, I noticed that the concert this year was focused on Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin. While I will be the first to admit that I am no classical music expert nor do I purport to be more than a casual listener while I study, I vividly remembered Gershwin from my elementary school days. I had a music teacher who was passionate about Gershwin, and from my perspective, passion tends to be memorable. So, I had high hopes as I awaited this year’s concert.
John Stuart Mill, a 19th century English philosopher, said in his work On Liberty that “… the only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion.” He uses the term ‘discussion’ to characterize this gathering of variety of opinion. Mill suggests that it is through discussion with others who have different opinions from ours that we learn.
As a student, it is easy to forget why we are attending college at all. Too often we get caught up in the dates and assignments, the exams that seem to come in floods every few weeks, the stress of juggling sports, activities, good health, socialization and the almost always forgotten, getting enough sleep. Sometimes, striking a balance between all our responsibilities is incredibly difficult, and it doesn’t leave us with much time to sit back and think about what we are really doing here. So, friends, fellow students and even faculty, I suggest we take a few minutes to do just that.
Being a part of the Disney College Program is an experience that you will cherish for the rest of your life. If you have always wanted to work for the Walt Disney Company, this is how you can start. If you have the passion for magic and fun, this is the program for you.
Recently, I attended Dr. Wayne’s presentation on Einstein within the Hesburgh Lecture Series. The topics spanned various disciplines that Einstein helped to progress, prominently the theories of relativity and the photoelectric effect. Before the lecture, I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with Dr. Wayne through a meal. At the meal, we discussed discoveries in astrophysics (e.g. the Big Bang) and some of his research in particle physics. He has utilized data from particle accelerators to progress in his field. We also talked about other, non-physics topics such as the media's role in politics.
Friday night, students in Dr. McMahon’s Honors Systematic Theology I and Dr. Sharbaugh’s Honors First Theology classes gathered for a night of food, fellowship and culture.
We traveled to Squirrel Hill to eat dinner at Curry on Murray, a Thai restaurant on Murray Avenue. For some, it was a first-time experience trying Thai cuisine. We tried dumplings and crab rangoon, and most ordered the classic Pad Thai dish for dinner. We enjoyed an evening getting to know our fellow classmates and professors outside of the classroom while eating delicious food.
If you made it through freshman year and you’re gearing up for Round 2, welcome back!
If you’re setting foot on campus this fall as a seasoned veteran, I salute you.
And if you’re a senior, I’ve got nothing but love and respect for you.