At the start of this year, and with all the newness and optimism that one can muster, we cannot help but glance back at the year 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic and its attendant consequences. The New Year of 2021 presents the chance to begin afresh, to wipe the slate clean, and as the Founder of Strathmore, St. Josemaría, liked to say: ‘a new year, a new struggle’. It is an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the current circumstances, without being overwhelmed by the raging pandemic.
Theme of the year 2021
Drawing from two of our Strathmore University core values, Personalised Attention and Life-long Learning, and the experiences of the past months, our theme of this year is ‘Thriving through personalised attention and life-long learning.’ This theme will give us the impetus to develop at a personal level creating a positive ripple effect to our community. It will shift our focus from 2020’s objective of survival to this year’s focus on growing and thriving.
This value is at the core of what Strathmore stands for and resonates with the teachings of St. Josemaría. It translates to giving personalized attention to the needs of each student, each faculty, each administrator, manager etc. in a relationship based on trust, care and understanding. We are persons, each unique and worthy of respect, and capable of being our brother’s keeper. It is a value easier lived when we are in constant personal contact. During these times, when unable to have that much desired interaction on a regular basis, living this value demands more will power and ingenuity. It requires us to see beyond the computer screen, to notice our classmate or colleague ‘next to us’ in a zoom class, webinar or meeting. It means paying closer attention to those nearest to us in the social distanced room, recognizing people through their masks. It demands that we invent ways to keep in touch with those near us and discover ways to ensure that they, through our companionship and attention, do not cave in to the pressures all around us.
Through the value of life-long learning, we endeavor to inculcate in each of us the desire to continuously grow in the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. Throughout our lives, we dedicate years to academic and professional development. However, learning never stops. Each lived experience presents a chance to learn and improve.
We learn from what we go through but especially those experiences that throw us out of our comfort zones and into unknown territory. Life-long learning needs a daring to look beyond current obstacles and see a silver lining behind every cloud of darkness.
The pandemic has left in its trail difficult moments, both personal and collective. We have had to shift gears, make changes and realise that life sometimes turns out different from our plans and expectations. In the coming months, we will strive to build our resilience by drawing lessons out of these crises moments. These lessons will in turn mould our character to steer us forward.
In summary, each student, each staff member, each department, each school is challenged to creatively and innovatively seek ways to thrive through the values of personalised attention and life-long learning.
Prof. John Odhiambo