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ISSUE 118 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 4/8/2005

Lecture focuses on hope in life

By Emelie Heltsley
News Editor

Friday, April 8, 2005

Hope was in the air Thursday as students, faculty and guests joined in Viking Theater for the first in a series of four Hope Lectures. Dan Marx '06 and Sheryl Saterstrom, assistant professor of dance, led the lecture, entitled "Embodying Hope.” The audience went on an interactive journey during the lecture to find hope in everyday life.

Marx and Saterstrom began their lecture by turning off the lights and commenting to each other, "I hope the lights turn on." As the lights turned on and they made their way up to the stage, they vocalized more hopes, such as a smooth and successful lecture and an excited audience.

"Bigger hope is grounded in little hope," Saterstrom said, referring to their hope in small things. "We're interested in being active hopers."

Marx and Saterstrom then tossed a "Ball of Hope," around the audience, asking those who caught it to name something for which they were hopeful. Audience responses ranged from "free health care" to "find a graduate school" to "figuring out my [class] schedule."

The lecture hoped to create authentic discussion among students and centered around small group discussions. Within their small groups, students discussed memorable experiences involving hope, how hope is recognized and what hope feels like.

"It's great to hear about everyone's hope for the future," Maggie Stephenson '07 said.

Emily Bartholomew '07 found hope useful in her work with diversity and advocacy. "Hope helps us in our struggles," she said, mentioning how hope can "combine with education" to be stronger.

After small group discussion, Marx and Saterstrom talked about their own experiences involving hope.

"Why do you get up in the morning?" Marx asked the audience. "I have embodied, lived and felt hopelessness," Marx said, explaining struggle in his personal life. "Hopelessness felt so bad that I didn't want to feel it anymore."

He continued by describing a fundamental truth that connects people to everything, asking how that connection can be best felt. Feeling an interconnectedness, he said, is necessary for hope to grow.

"We all have inherent potential [for hope]," Marx said.

Saterstrom remembered growing up on a farm and the vital role of hope in planning for the harvest and in "knowing that some things would always happen," such as the sunrise and sunset.

"Hope is wedded to happening," she said, explaining the anticipation surrounding fresh tomatoes is “invested in the waiting." Saterstrom stressed that hope is not "just an idea," but a "future thing that must be in the present."

The lecture closed with general audience comments about hope. Professor of history and Director of American Studies Jim Farrell noted how hope comes from other people. "[There] may be independent choices, but [hope is] almost always in context of a group," he said, mentioning his church community and the St. Olaf community.

"It's easy to get mired in hopelessness, but find something you're hopeful about," Saterstrom said, urging students to stay in the hopeful mindset outside the lecture.

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