Given the tumultuous times, I hope the stories in this issue of Colby offer a bit of reassurance. No, we can’t tell you when the economy will rebound. But we can show you that there are many good people out there—more than a few being bona fide members of the Colby community—and they still are going about their business of making the world a better place.
This magazine is chock full.
Professor Barbara Kuczun Nelson ’68 not only teaches Colby students, but she offers her acclaimed Spanish language-instruction Web site free of charge, free of advertising, to students and teachers around the world. What does Nelson get out of it? Read the e-mailed and heartfelt thank-you notes that accompany Lauren Pongan’s story—and multiply them by several thousand.
On television, cops are always hard on the trail of crooks and terrorists. Tom Betro ’81, head of the real-life version of TV’s popular drama NCIS, has spent his career in such pursuits, but in the real world. The perps—from drug dealers to murderers to actual terrorists—aren’t bagged in an hour, but Betro’s global team usually gets its man (or woman).
Readers may be both heartened and dismayed by the work of Ken Wong ’83 at the Face-to-Face Aids Project. Wong has inspired Jamie Goldring ’09, and both have worked to tell the human story behind AIDS in Malawi. It’s an effort—and a story—that takes a tragic situation and imbues it with courage and hope.
It takes courage to confront a problem as overwhelming as the AIDS epidemic or poverty. It also takes a certain amount of courage to remain optimistic in the face of adversity—or confronted by the inescapable reminders of it. This is a note about the power of optimism and the importance of a willingness to move forward in small but unyielding steps, so I must conclude it with a plug for Joe Atkins.
Atkins is a psychology professor at Colby, and he also runs multicultural programs here. He is African-American and has felt the sting of racism. But Atkins, like millions of Americans, also has felt the sea change that was the inauguration of Barack Obama. Atkins has chosen to join what is not so much a movement as what he sees as an emerging reality.
Read his essay. You may choose to embrace this new reality, as well. And, like others whose stories are told here, you may feel that with good works comes the sometimes faint but still-inextinguishable fire of hope.
Gerry Boyle ’78, P’06