Openingnotes Section Title
Beth English Photo

The sun was just starting its evening drop to the horizon when my kindergarten daughter, Caroline, and I headed outside with a trowel and two bags of bulbs. This is the year I am planning ahead. Next spring, I am determined to have a yard filled with daffodils and ranunculus and tulips.

I had planned to spend the time alone, smelling the turned earth and breathing in the quiet. But Caroline wanted to help, so I assigned her the task of dropping in the bulbs. We worked companionably, enjoying the challenge of finding just the right spot for each flower-to-be.

While we were digging and chatting, I thought about what a hopeful act this was — planting something that resembled a clove of garlic or a dried-out flower pod and trusting that the result would be something glorious. It doesn’t seem promising, does it? And yet we dig and plant and know our efforts will be transformed into something lovely. All we have to do is put the bulb in the right environment to grow.

I've been thinking a lot about growth and transformation lately. It's probably natural. With the start of the school year, things take on a different tone. It's time to buckle down and get things done. It's time to put in the work and trust that the result will be there at the end of the year.

So far, I've already watched my children grow and change in just a few weeks of school. My daughter is writing clearer letters and starting to read simple books. My son is tackling math problems that make my head hurt. And those are just the academic changes.

Both are gaining confidence. I can almost physically see it — the bounce in their step, the joy in their eyes, the excited chatter at the end of the day.

I've seen some of the same changes on this campus. As the freshmen arrive each year, I feel a slight twinge of jealousy. I know those students are standing on the cusp of something wonderful. When they leave UNCG, they will go on to do amazing things — all because of lessons learned in the classroom as well as conversations in their rooms, at tables in the dining hall, or even while sitting outside enjoying the sun. Sometimes the lessons are as simple as learning that other people see the world a little differently. By the time they leave, maybe they’ll see the world a little differently too.

I meet these alumni years later, as they return to campus for Homecoming or serve on a board or even tell their stories here. And they are all such a wonderful demonstration of what makes up UNCG: people with heart; people who make a difference; people who do things they never imagined.

All because they came to this place, a place where they could grow.

Beth English '07 MALS, Editor
beth_english@uncg.edu