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ISSUE 118 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 4/29/2005

Generations bond: Mothers, daughtersdiscuss life, skydiving

By Alyssa Kleven
Contributing Writer

Friday, April 29, 2005

In a pre-celebration of Mother's Day, moms from all over the country flocked to the St. Olaf campus to have dinner or brunch with their daughters this past weekend.

There were a few Ole alumni in attendance, but being an Olaf graduate wasn't the only reason to visit campus over the weekend.

Sitting at round tables in the Black and Gold Ballroom, moms and daughters caught up as another school year neared its end.

Claire McDonald '05 introduced the events of the brunch. Carrie Kern ‘05 then followed McDonald's introduction by saying the meal's prayer.

Following Kern’s prayer, Bon Appétit served up a new spin on Stav Hall's cheesy egg dish. After the meal, lifetime Northfielder Jean Callister-Benson, director of stewardship at St. Olaf, and mother of a first year student (who didn't want her mother to mention her name during her speech), gave a presentation on what it means to be a mother.

Callister-Benson related her conceptions of motherhood through the metaphor of jumping from a plane, because this spring break her daughter did just that.

All that is involved in diving out of a plane – whether or not it is done tandem or alone, with the safety of a parachute or with a phone call to mom once hitting the ground – are required to make the jump safely.

These same safety precautions are also important when making the metaphorical “jump” into life. Callister-Benson interviewed her daughters and friends on making this jump into life.

Callister-Benson advised that people learn the risks of jumping out of a plane, as well as jumping into life. In skydiving, an average of 35 people per year die because of mistakes made in the process.

Despite the fact that these 35 come from a pool of 12 million skydivers, Callister-Benson still encouraged her audience to avoid the mistakes in the procedure of life.

For example, she said women should know a good “drop zone” when they see one.

"Look for a drop zone that's more than a livelihood; look for a drop zone that challenges you," Benson said. She also encouraged the daughters in the room to "be proud that you've landed."

This encouragement from mothers to their daughters ended with "Dance with the Wind," a poem about skydiving by skydiver and poet Rodney Ross.

The poem advises readers to "see the world as it is."

For the mothers and daughters in attendance, Callister-Benson’s speech encouraged a strong mother-daughter bond throughout the room.

Whether the mothers in attendance were from Northfield or other areas of the country, Callister-Benson’s message seemed to resonate in the common relationships at each table among the women.

Each mother-daughter pair undoubtedly left the banquet feeling ambitious, well-prepared and ready for a “dive.”

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