Another reason to love Ann Curry: She takes responsibility for her mistakes and can even laugh about them. In an article titled “My Favorite Mistakes” that appeared recently in Newsweek, the NBC “Today” show co-host graciously recalled mixing up our Wheaton with the other one during her Commencement speech here in 2010: “I think mortified is the best way to describe how I felt,” she said. “I wrote a letter of apology to the school. I owned the mistake. I just wanted to make sure the students felt taken care of. In the speech, I tried to tell them something that would be useful. I didn’t want anything to take away from that.”
On April 12, the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, the Boston Globe featured excerpts from the 19th-century diary of Lucy Larcom, one of Wheaton’s most storied educators and an ardent abolitionist.
As quoted in the Globe, Larcom wrote, “It will be no pleasure to any American to remember that he lived in this revolution, when brother lifted his hand against brother; and the fear is, that we shall forget that we are brethren still, though some are so unreasonable and wander so far from the true principles of national prosperity.”
The Globe noted that news of the Confederacy’s attack at Fort Sumter took a full day to reach Boston. Soon President Abraham Lincoln was rallying the troops, and on April 21 Larcom wrote: “I felt a soldier-spirit rising within me, when I saw the men of my native town armed and going to risk their lives for their country’s sake…. The streets of Boston were almost canopied with the stars and stripes, and the merchants festooned their shops with the richest goods of the national colors.”
Larcom taught literature, composition and other subjects at Wheaton for many years, beginning in 1854. She also founded the student literary journal, Rushlight, which is still published today. Her style of teaching “by lecture, reading and discussion, rather than by memorization and recitation” was revolutionary at the time.
In the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, the campus community offered support through “Together with Japan,” a series of events aimed at raising awareness and funds for the American Red Cross in Japan. The collaborative effort involved the Global Center for Education; the Office of Service, Spirituality and Social Responsibility; the Asian American Coalition; AfterTaste club; Art House; and the Service, Engagement and Activism Board of the Student Government Association.
During one event, the rich culture of Japan was highlighted in Balfour-Hood through music, food, displays and activities, including the making of paper cranes. Another event, an evening of reflection and education in Cole Memorial Chapel, provided an opportunity for the members of the Norton Japanese community to share their feelings and thoughts about the disasters in their homeland, and offered a chance for Wheaton science professors to discuss some of the possible long-term effects resulting from the disasters. The Sun Chronicle (Attleboro, Mass.) wrote about the outreach efforts.