As we approach the midpoint of our yearlong celebration of the Bicentennial of the Society of Alumni (SoA), I’ll share a few thoughts on our collective journey to date.
Thank you for engaging in bicentennial initiatives in ways we hoped and imagined through a planning process straddling our pre-pandemic existence and our realities since winter 2020. You’re exploring the SoA Bicentennial website (alumni.williams.edu/200). You’re tuning in to virtual programming, whether live (alumni.williams.edu/200/events) or after the fact (alumni.williams.edu/200/past-events). You’re solving monthly puzzles created by alumni leading the Puzzles in Purple hunt and can jump in at any point to solve the final metapuzzle (exaltation-of-larks.com/puzzlesinpurple). You’re reviewing and contemplating the history of the SoA (alumni.williams.edu/200/history).
We’re looking for your stories of what it means to be a Williams alum.
Perhaps most significantly, you’ve responded to the invitation to share your personal stories and life experiences as they relate to Williams and our alumni community. Your stories include brief recollections, long-form articles, videos and more. All are compiled at alumni.williams.edu/200/stories; we invite you to add yours. Whether detailing encounters that lift you up or ways our community has let you down, we’re looking for your stories of what it means to be a Williams alum and what we mean to each other. Here are just a few stories embodying the spirit of the initiative:
- Thomasin Jean Berry ’73 writes about being among the first female students (bit.ly/ThomasinBerry).
- Etienne Aduya ’15 shares his story as a gay, Black student athlete in the hopes that others will have a better experience than he did (bit.ly/EtienneAduya).
- Josh Burson ’01 and fellow carillonneurs exemplify the unusual places Ephs connect, as told to Kate Stone Lombardi ’78 (bit.ly/JoshBurson).
- Sisters Danielle Bahr Eason ’98 and Talia Bahr Goldfarb ’94 discuss how they expanded their Williams family through kinship with Abubaker Ali Ba Abbad CDE ’17, a Yemeni student they met through Claiming Williams Day (bit.ly/BahrAbbad).
- And Gerry Kelly ’79 recounts how his Morgan East JA and basketball teammate helped make his hometown a better place for physically disabled residents (bit.ly/GerardKelly).
Included in the personal narratives are articles written by Leigh Winter Martin ’99, who wears many volunteer hats for Williams and is currently co-chair of the Bicentennial Archival Subcommittee. In anticipation of this year’s celebration, she has spent hundreds of hours reading every issue of the Williams Alumni Review, starting with 1907, teasing out stories and themes that strengthen alumni bonds and build bridges across the generations. You can read one of her recent articles, about E. Kendall Gillett, Class of 1908, at bit.ly/EKendallGillett.
We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Leigh, Kate and all who have shared their stories. I hope you’ll consider adding yours.
With best wishes from Williamstown,
—Brooks Foehl ’88, Director of Alumni Relations