EOU enriches our community

By Ginny Mammien February 06, 2009 03:40 pm

This promises to be a year filled with good fortune and strength.

How do I know? Well, during January, Dale and I took part in two activities that were supposed to assure us of this. Happily for us they both included food and friends.

On New Year’s Day we visited the home of friends, Graham and Barbara, where luck came in a bowl of cornbread and black-eyed peas smothered with pot liquor (liquid from cooking the beans). This traditional southern custom is one Barbara and Graham brought to La Grande when they moved here from Mississippi.

Then on Jan. 25 we celebrated New Year’s Eve Chinese-style with two Chinese students attending EOU. We had originally invited the young women to have dinner with us on Monday to celebrate the beginning of the Year of the Ox. After they explained that in their part of China, celebrations occurred the evening before (much as we celebrate New Year’s Eve) with family and friends, we expanded our party to include three generations of our family and invited our friends, Gary and Charlotte, to join us. The girls brought pork dumplings they had prepared and pictures of celebrations at home. The rest of us came with an eagerness to learn something new and to enjoy an evening of food and fellowship.

We gathered at the Golden Harvest restaurant where the So family treated us royally by preparing some special dishes for us to authentically add assurance of good luck for the coming year. Their son, Ben, joined us and the three young people visited and shared their various dialects.

This got me to thinking about the many ways our whole family has been enriched by EOU. For at least the past 15 years Dale and I have gone to the weight room in Quinn an average of five mornings a week to work out. Over the years the weight room has expanded, and I guess so have we, but we feel the workouts have helped keep us healthy and fit both mentally and physically.

Contact with the students at the gym has been a joy. We have shared hopes and dreams as well as disappointments and difficulties of these young men and women as they progress from year to year. It is exciting to run into them after graduation and catch up on their accomplishments.

For many years one of our primary sources of entertainment has been supplied by the university. We have enjoyed plays, concerts, art exhibits and sporting events, especially basketball. Our enjoyment has been enhanced for all of these when we have had some personal contact with one or more of the students participating. We even experienced something new and exciting for us when we were able to be involved with several movies that were produced by former student Chris Hatton and filmed in the Grande Ronde Valley.

Then there are the friendships we have enjoyed with many of the past and current individuals associated with the university. These are people with whom we have attended church, dined, traveled and shared sadness and joy.

The university has been and continues to play a significant part of our lives whether we recognize it or not. It is not just a group of buildings up the hill from town, nor is it a sports team or banners or logos. It is a group of people who form a body that has a personality all its own and we are fortunate to have it as part of our lives.

If you feel you have not experienced this enrichment in your life, I would encourage you to make a concerted effort to do so this year. (Google Campus and Community Events – Eastern Oregon University.)

One way to connect with the foreign students is to attend the  International Night on Feb. 28. The students taking part are away from their country, their families and their close friends. They welcome sharing their culture and visiting with people of all ages. So grandparents, parents and families with small children join the students for an evening of food and entertainment and connection. Even if it causes you to be a bit uncomfortable at first to initiate a conversation don’t be shy. Ask lots of questions. You’ll be the richer for doing so. Enjoy!

Ginny Mammen is a La Grande resident.