As we celebrated Thanksgiving and head towards the Holidays and a New Year, I reflect on two words-gratitude and giving.
Several years ago, I remember having a conversation with a fourth-year student about her disappointment at not getting into her residency of choice. As the conversation progressed, I told her that she had achieved so much and that her professional journey was just beginning. I reminded her of the work that she had done to get to dental school, of the sacrifices made to earn her degree and of her many incredible successes. I told her that she was going to be a Doctor with a license to practice her chosen career and that no one would ever take that achievement away from her. She left the meeting with gratitude.
More recently we connected with our alumni at our reception at the Greater New York Dental Meeting. At that meeting I met with recent D19s that expressed their gratitude for the training they had received. They are in one-year residencies in NYC , feel prepared and are embracing learning new techniques and honing their skills. Another alumnus who has moved back from CA to NYC and is now a faculty member at Columbia College of Dental Medicine expressed his gratitude for being able to be a young dental educator and practitioner in the City. The sense of family at each “generational” cluster at the reception created enough warmth to thaw the cold wintery side-walks of NYC in December!
Back at One Kneeland, I am always greeted warmly by Matilda Bejko as I pass through on the third floor between 7:15-7:30 AM. We typically exchange pleasantries and short stories. We recently talked about the earthquake in Albania and what a struggle it is for people who have lost everything in a country that has relatively few resources. When I ask her if things are busy she has such a positive response-that “busyness” is good for the school and our patients and hence good for our employees-her expressions of gratitude first thing in the morning are a great way to start the day.
I witness gratitude at this time of year in so many other ways-students who have completed their first semester, their final exams, their “3-unit bridge competency”, the last patient for the semester. Faculty, Staff and students that celebrate with us at holiday gatherings. And I could go on and on!
A common question we hear at this time of year is “Are you done with your shopping yet?”. Although this time year is associated with the buying of “physical gifts”, it is the other form of giving that I witness that is so powerful and positive. Let me share two examples of the type of “giving” I am talking about.
Dr Rankin and his student organization have been engaged with the 10th year of the Tufts Dental military HPSP (Health Professional Scholarship Program) annual “Drive For the Troops”. The donations they gather are meaningful to those that serve and are far away from their families and loved ones.
I mentioned our reception at the Greater New Dental Meeting earlier. The reception happened to fall on “Giving Tuesday-December 3”. During the meeting our New York alumni helped us surge past our target of 350 donations (432 gift-31% increase from last year and a total of 155,561 raised-a 64% increase from last year). So many of our alumni, staff, faculty, students and friends “gave” to this school that has meant, and means so much to them. I thank the many faculty, students and staff who were so actively engaged in all of the activities on Giving Tuesday that encourage others to consider giving.
So during the Holiday Season and as you celebrate a New Year with your loved ones I ask that you take a little time out for yourself and reflect on “gratitude and giving” and on the poem below:
“The season of giving. Gathering. Hibernating.
Cold. Raw. Bare trees.
Longing, Ruminating. Reflecting. Regrouping.
Withdrawal. Self-evaluating. Quiet.
A dull roar. Rallying.
Younger self surfacing.
Steer the course.
Reflect on purpose.
Let your soul speak.
Listen and live with patience.
Steer the course.
Let silence encourage.
Snow falls. All flakes unique. All fall the same.
Nature in control.
Hope gains ground. Firmer ground established.
Freeze. Chill. Numb. Hunker
Steer the course”
Form : Migrations An Almanac for the Soul, by Jacqui Bonwell and Any Cahill.
I wish you all a restful, peaceful and safe holiday season