MICHELLE XU/THE HOYA Naomi Tutu, human rights activist and daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was among a number of speakers for the first annual Winter Confluence for freshmen, held Jan. 7 in Gaston Hall.
MICHELLE XU/THE HOYA
Naomi Tutu, human rights activist and daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was among a number of speakers for the first annual Winter Confluence for freshmen, held Jan. 7 in Gaston Hall.

About 50 members of the Class of 2017 reunited in Gaston Hall on Tuesday, Jan 7, for the first annual Winter Confluence, an event marked by reflection and a keynote speech by human rights activist and daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Naomi Tutu.

“This winter event gives first-year students an opportunity to reflect on where they have been since NSO and where they want to go in the semesters ahead,” Vice President for Mission and Ministry Fr. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., said. “They are in a very different place than where they were in August. … With some wisdom shared by presenters, they hopefully will be able to make some good decisions about the direction of their Georgetown experience.”

The event, planned by Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson and Director of Orientation Justin Smith, allowed attending freshmen to reflect on their first semester of college and honor the Georgetown community’s commitment to justice. The evening featured multiple speakers and a special centennial tribute to the late Polish World War II resistance movement fighter and Georgetown professor Jan Karski.

Building upon the theme of reflection, Tutu recounted how the African proverb “A person is a person through other people” extends beyond the Georgetown community.

“The lesson is that we in this world are connected to one another in ways that sometimes are not even clear, that we are connected to those for whom we do something good, that when you do good for someone else, in a real way you do good for yourself,” Tutu said.

She stressed that this theme applies to Georgetown’s campus and students, especially as many embark on new goals, resolutions and adventures this semester.

Freshman speaker Eric Wu (SFS ’17) shared his own Georgetown story, emphasizing the different narratives of Georgetown students. He was chosen after his proseminar professor, Elizabeth Stephen, nominated him for the speakership spot.

“The last thing that I wanted to do was follow in my mom’s footsteps. I wanted to be different, and I wanted to blaze my own trail. What I found, however, in my few short months here at Georgetown is there is no better place to write your own story than here,” Wu, whose mother is an alumna, said. “I’m in the process of writing a Georgetown story that could not be more different from that of my own mother. What’s more, each and every one of you is currently writing a Georgetown story that is immeasurably different from mine.”

The event also commemorated Karski on the 70th anniversary of the publication of his book “Story of a Secret” and what would be his 100th birthday. Mark Lagon, professor in the practice of international affairs, discussed Karski’s past accomplishments and life story. To close, O’Brien reflected on the years to come.

“The next few years of your time, let this be a playground of wisdom and of virtue, and in so doing when you get to that end, the senior convocation, the senior ball and the commencement activities, then you’ll be ready,” O’Brien said.

Attendees enjoyed the opportunity for reflection and preparation for their upcoming semesters.

“I thought the event was a really good segue into the second semester of our freshman year,” Monika Patel (MSB ’17) said. “I think it was important that they had us reflect on what was good and bad, because that’s important to consider going forward –– to focus on things you need to improve on and remember the things that have gone well in the past and use that as encouragement.”

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