Because I live in the United States, the history of my country doesn’t really go back beyond 1492, and even then, the buildings, institutions, cities, and such would seem pretty primitive compared to their “Old World” counterparts. As old as some of our buildings are, they are new compared to some of the “Old World” structures. The American education system had primitive beginnings to, and so it’s hard to think of the beginning of universities here, and yet, the oldest university in the continental United States is Harvard, which was established in 1636. That seem very old to me, but when compared to the oldest universities in the world, that is a baby university.
The universities in the United States, were modeled after some of the universities in Europe, like the University of Oxford. The University of Oxford is older than the Aztec Empire, which is said to have originated in 1325. The University of Oxford first opened its doors to students all the way back in 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second-oldest university in continuous operation. That seems an impossible date, but while 1096 is a very, very long time ago, the University of Oxford is not even the oldest university in the world. In fact, it is actually the fourth oldest university in the world. Still, it is quite prestigious. “Oxford has educated a wide range of notable alumni, including 30 prime ministers of the United Kingdom and many heads of state and government around the world. As of October 2022, 73 Nobel Prize laureates, 4 Fields Medalists, and 6 Turing Award winners have matriculated, worked, or held visiting fellowships at the University of Oxford, while its alumni have won 160 Olympic medals. Oxford is the home of numerous scholarships, including the Rhodes Scholarship, one of the oldest international graduate scholarship programs.” All that is to be expected for a university with such long standing.
The other three oldest universities are the University of Bologna, a public research university in Bologna, Italy, founded in 1088 at number three; the Al-Azhar University, a public university in Cairo, Egypt, founded in 970 at number two; and the oldest university in the world, the University of al-Qarawiyyin, located in Fes, Morocco, founded in 859. It amazes me that there could be universities that have been around for that many years. I think that mostly, it’s not the institutions of higher learning that amaze me, but more the structures that held them and the institutions of people who ran them. I think that there has always been a desire to learn more, so the universities themselves make perfect sense, but the buildings built so long ago that have somehow managed to remain standing, while so many other structures are in total disrepair, is astounding.
Have you ever noticed that there are some people who seem very knowledgeable about alot of things? I’m not talking about a know it all. I’m talking about someone who just knows a lot about a lot of things. That is the way Bob’s great uncle is. He isn’t the type of person to brag about what he knows, he just shares his knowledge in such an interesting way, that it is a pleasure to listen to him.
Great Uncle Frank is the fourth of five brothers in his family. He and his wife, Helen went on to have five sons of their own. The first time I met then was when they brought Bob’s great grandparents from Yakima, Washington to Casper, Wyoming to visit the family here in August, 1976. Not only were he and his wife very interesting people, but his parents, Bob’s great grandparents were too. I could definitely see where Great Uncle Frank got his thirst for knowledge. His parents were amazing people in great health, who lived at home their entire lives. They were alert and sharp as tacks well into their ninety’s, and I expect Frank and Helen will do the same.
Frank was a college professor until his retirement, and Helen was a social worker. Frank taught Science at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, but science was not all he knew about. He was a virtual encyclopedia of knowledge. He can carry on a conversation about almost any subject you might want to talk about, and talk intelligently about it too. Some people do a lot of reading, and some people just retain information very easily. I’m not sure which one applies to Frank, but the knowledge is definitely stored in his memory in a orderly fashion that was easily accessible. It was a pleasure to talk with him.
Having five sons, Frank was always interested in anything that would interest his boys, and help them become the best men they could be. He settled on the Boy Scouts, and he was active in the Boy Scouts for many years. I will always feel blessed to have known this amazing man, and his equally amazing wife.
My grand niece, Siara is going to college in Great Falls, Montana. She is a cheerleader with at the University of Great Falls. It is her first experience at being one her own, and more importantly, the first time away from her family. Most high school kids don’t understand how hard that is. They are so excited about being grown up and on their own…being their own boss, but that is not all that it is cracked up to be. As Siara can tell you, there are moments that life is great in college, followed by moments when you just really miss your family…especially your mom, if you are as close as Siara is to her mom, my niece Chantel. Those are the moments when you have to put a smile on your face and keep going, when what you really want to do is sit down and have a good cry.
Of course, not every moment is that sad. There have been some wonderful experiences already. While 6:00am is not exactly the time anyone in their right mind wants to be up and at cheerleading practice, that is exactly where Siara is every day that she has practice. You see, Siara is a dedicated athlete, and anyone who doesn’t think cheerleading is a sport, simply has not seen the bruises she has had or watched her cheer through sore muscles, because that is her job. And Siara is a National Champion. Her high school cheer team took 1st place is The American Grand National Championship Cheerleading competition, so she knows all about the hard work and dedication it takes to be a great cheerleader.
Not every moment of Siara’s college life is such hard work either. She has made so many new friends, and that may be the very thing that has made life there bearable. Being away from home still hurts deeply sometimes, and will continue to do so, but having friends around you who miss their familes too, and understand what you are going through goes a long way toward healing a hurting heart. This is a group of friends sharing the good times, and being brave together in the bad times. No, it isn’t all crying and being brave. These new college students, of which my grand niece is one, are learning about moving forward, while remembering the past…growing up while still keeping a little bit of the child they were…learning while still enjoying campus life…and yes, being brave when they feel like crying because of homesickness. As I told Siara when she first started college and was feeling like she wanted to come home…it will be hard sometimes, but you will never be sorry you took the journey…and I don’t think she has been…sorry that is. Keep on being brave Siara, the future is yours.