More and more I regret how late I have met ND’s former dean of the business school, Carolyn Woo.
She spoke at Notre Dame’s International Student Orientation welcome dinner tonight and offered some helpful habits for incoming students. She herself was an international student: She had left Hong Kong to study at Purdue in Indiana. Her experience was typical of students who study away from home– she didn’t know how to read campus maps and felt perpetually lost, but most of all, she felt terribly alone and homesick.
At her lowest point though, what kept her head above water was her Catholic faith. She broke down crying one day, so a Purdue staffperson asked her what her religion was. The staffperson eventually connected her to the Catholic Newman community at Purdue, and it was from there that Dean Woo first found a support system.
Dean Woo then offered 4 helpful habits she adopted as a Catholic international student in America:
1) Reflect on lessons learned, even if you think you have learned nothing.
2) Attend daily mass.
3) Learn to open your eyes to kindness.
4) Be not afraid to plunge into the unknown.
Except for #2, these four habits don’t explicitly have a Catholic ring. But when you examine them more closely, you can see that each of them are deeply rooted in Catholic teaching — particularly in the belief in God’s Providence. It’s God’s Providence, after all, that keeps us faithful and hopeful even at our lowest points.
Anyway, I’ve been pretty bad at posting regularly on this blog (especially recently), but I want to change that. In the next week I plan to post a reflection on the Catholic character of each of these habits from Dean Woo. I think they’re a fine testament, again, to why being Catholic matters.