One of the many Jesuit mottos that Fairfield University values is St. Ignatius Loyola’s urgence that we “go forth and set the world on fire.” Though the idea of setting the world aflame sounds rather destructive, Fairfield has instead taken those words to mean the spread of acts of service, of being kind and letting that kindness flow. In a world that can sometimes seem very bleak, I think what we, both as students starting a new semester in college and as global citizens, need to keep in mind that foundational idea of kindness.
In going to college for the first time, my goal was to meet as many people as possible, and to enfold around me relationships that were many and varied from my own. I had a hunger to meet people and to learn from them what it meant to exist in a place that was not my own hometown. Though I had many moments of nervousness and insecurity about my place on campus, I firmly believe that any kindness I gave out was returned tenfold. Being the change you wish to see can mean more than a cliché quote; you have the agency to “set the world on fire” with your kindness.
With students new and old coming to Fairfield this semester, I believe it’s incredibly important to treat each other softly and with empathy. Everyone is learning something for the first time right about now; at this stage during my first year I didn’t even know where the StagBus left from. Giving people the space, patience and respect they deserve to make mistakes and learn from them is crucial in a transitional time such as this, and is something that I hope carries on not just for the first week or month of the year, but continuously.
This message doesn’t just extend to students; Fairfield as a campus has changed dramatically even since last year, let alone when I started here in the fall of 2016. We have a brand-new mailroom system that may be a little slow, three new Dunkin’ Donuts in various locations with employees still learning the ropes and new townhouses that need some finishing touches. We have extremely hardworking custodians, facility workers, cashiers, maintenance people, mailroom attendants and food service workers who are all making that adjustment as well. Our kindness does not stop at our direct peers; give them the time and pay them the kindness of understanding, and before you know it will be like these changes have been in place forever.
So go forth and set your world, your campus, on fire with kindness. With patience, with understanding, with empathy, with love. Keep your heart open to the possibility of new friends, and lend your smile to the people who keep this school’s heart beating. Here’s to a kinder year my fellow Stags; set the world aflame.