Well, here we are, on our last full day in the manor. Gordon Kingsley, the principal of Harlaxton, just sent out an email to all of the school. His words perfectly sum up the emotions myself and the rest of our family here at Harlaxton have been feeling lately. The past couple of weeks in the manor have been some of the best of the past few months. Filled with laughs, tears, and many many stories — reflecting on one heck of a semester.
I write this on Easter Sunday evening, 2014, a “soft” evening at beautiful Harlaxton Manor.
Students are in the midst of their final examinations after a very busy, eventful, and successful semester. We celebrated with a Valedictory Dinner last Thursday evening, a formal dinner “In Hall” with faculty handsomely processing in robes, with awards to students, with appreciation to faculty, and with a marvellous video wrap-up of the term created by College Intern Gloria Atanmo. Harlaxton students were at their enthusiastic, energetic best as they expressed appreciation to one another and to those who have guided them through their magical semester in this place.
Now, for them, three more days of writing exams, along with some last-minute packing. And then on Wednesday afternoon, the coaches drive up, the students board, tears and goodbyes overflow, and it is Farewell to Harlaxton—some going to Italy (Rome-Florence-Venice) on the College trip, some home to America, some traveling on their own, all going their separate and several ways.
And it ends.
But we all feel it, even through our tears: “To make an end is to make a beginning.”
(The words are from T. S. Eliot, St. Louis-born, Harvard-educated, who spent his life in England—from his poem “Little Gidding,” named for a church and village not far from Harlaxton.)
Harlaxton students feel this in their hearts, and it is not just because of Easter, not just because of a beautiful English Springtime, not just because “home” beckons. They feel, and they say, without any sense of exaggeration, “Harlaxton changed my life.” They go from Harlaxton better people, more mature, more knowledgeable, more sensitive, more caring, more—well, more ALIVE.
I know how they feel, for after 11 ½ years Suzanne and I are taking our leave of this magnificent place, we ourselves returning to America. It is time, it is “right,” but we shall miss Harlaxton terribly.
For, you see, Harlaxton works her magic not only on our students, but on those who serve here as well. Harlaxton changed our lives, too, and we shall be forever grateful. Our hearts and our thanks go out to those who gave us the privilege of serving Harlaxton College, to those who have supported, to those who have cared, to those who have been part of the Harlaxton Family in any and every way.
We join our students in saying, “Thank you. It has been good,” as we all “then, again, begin.”