An Attitude of Gratitude for the Cal Lutheran Community
We are in awe of you. As it was last year, the College’s participation in Cal Lutheran Cares Day 2021 was a success. Because of our community’s generosity, we exceeded our goals with more than 140 donors and more than $176,000 in contributions. The College placed second of 22 participating units on campus on the event’s leaderboard! We are grateful.
We could not have accomplished this feat without the participation of our devoted supporters in and outside the College. We received three challenge grants from: philanthropist Sue Swenson; The Bachofer Family in honor of Cynthia, Sylvia, Ernie, and Ruth Bachofer; and Dr. Laureen (Spinas ‘83) and Mr. Mica Hill. The Dean’s Advisory Council had its own challenge, led by Dr. Mary Ellen Cosenza, and they raised nearly $7,300. Their generosity played a significant part in the College surpassing its Cares Day objectives.
College faculty, students, staff, alumni, and other benefactors also participated in pivotal ways. Some took time to record brief videos which appeared on College social media platforms; others made financial contributions, while others spread word of the College on their personal social media accounts. These contributions greatly benefit those at the heart of the College—our students and the programs which support their academic endeavors. So many shared their Cal Lu stories too, and we cherish them.
Gratitude as a Way of Life
Cares Day brings to mind the concept of gratitude and the impact this quality has on our daily lives. We remain immensely thankful for the individuals who contribute to the College’s success not only on Cares Day but throughout the year.
The terms “gratitude”, “thankfulness”, or “gratefulness” emanate from the Latin word “gratus,” signifying something pleasing. Thought leaders from multiple perspectives and across history have pronounced the merits of gratitude for thousands of years. Of this attribute, the Greek philosopher Plato said, “A grateful mind is a great mind which eventually attracts to itself great things,” and Persian Poet and Sufi master Rumi uttered, “Wear gratitude like a cloak, and it will feed every corner of your life.”
In Judaism, the Hebrew phrase “hakarat hatov” translates to “recognizing the good,” allowing followers of the faith to appreciate life’s blessings. I thought this was particularly fitting given that May is Jewish American Heritage Month, which I discuss further below.
Those who embrace a practice of gratitude become mindful of the good in their lives and experience various research-backed benefits including:
Improved physical health
Enhanced psychological health
Increased empathy and reduced aggressive behavior
I know we are all exhausted by the events during this unprecedented academic year. Yet, it is essential to recognize the good. Despite the hardships so many in our community have faced over the last twelve months, and there have been too many to count, we are grateful to our Cal Lu community.
Communities Breaking Barriers yet Still Facing Discrimination
In May we welcome two annual observances: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (AAPI) and Jewish American Heritage Month. Both examine and honor the many contributions of individuals from these communities to the nation. No matter one’s ethnic or religious background, all of us benefit from the ideals and actions of members of these communities. Practicing gratitude toward them is an essential complement to learning their stories and studying their contexts.
Congress designated this month to pay tribute to the Asian Pacific Islander community "to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869.”* The workers who laid the railroad’s tracks were largely Chinese immigrants.
Notable Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders include:
Virologist and physician Dr. David Ho, an eminent researcher who has studied AIDS and the coronavirus
Vice President Kamala Harris
Author and restaurateur Joyce Chen, who popularized the Chinese buffet
U.S. Senator and Army Veteran Tammy Duckworth and U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono
Olympic Gold Medalist/Surfer/Actor Duke Kahanamoku
Writers Amy Tan, Mira Jacob, Khaled Hosseini, and Paul Yoon
Chinese American architect I.M. Pei, who designed the glass and steel pyramid at the Musée du Louvre in Paris and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library in Boston
Musicians Yo-Yo Ma, Vanessa Hudgens, and Bruno Mars
Labor Leader Philip Vera Cruz
In 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed May Jewish American Heritage Month in conjunction with a resolution from the House of Representatives which stated the following:
“Resolved ... that Congress urges the President to issue each year a proclamation calling on State and local governments and the people of the United States to observe an American Jewish History Month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.”
The first people of Jewish heritage arrived in New Amsterdam, presently the southern part of Manhattan, in 1654. Like their AAPI counterparts, they have made an impressive imprint across various arenas of the national landscape, ranging from academia, the arts, and literature to business and politics. Some noteworthy members are:
U.S. Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer
Writers Julie Orringer, Saul Bellow, J.D. Salinger, and Nicole Krauss
Linguist and Political Philosopher Noam Chomsky
Singers Bob Dylan, Idina Menzel, and Bette Midler
Former New England Patriot Julian Edelman
Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry
Actors Gal Gadot, Scarlett Johannson, and Natalie Portman
Members of these communities have often experienced bigotry, hatred, and discrimination throughout our nation’s history. In the late 19th century, a mob attacked and killed 19 Chinese residents in the Chinatown neighborhood of Los Angeles. The developing anti-Asian sentiment of that era sparked the passage of the Page Exclusion Act of 1875 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which respectively stopped the arrival of Chinese women and laborers from China into the U.S.
Animosity against Asians continued during World War II when the federal government placed around 120,000 Japanese Americans in internment camps along America’s West Coast following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Even though many of these individuals held U.S. citizenship, government officials perceived Japanese Americans as a national threat due to their heritage. Even today, some Americans express prejudice toward these groups through physical violence, online harassment, or microaggressions. We have seen such discrimination persist following the Vietnam War, and COVID-related anti-AAPI prejudice and violence continue today. The alarming rise in hate crimes against AAPI communities were explored in last month’s blog.
Similarly, according to Pew Research, 64% of Americans say Jews face at least some discrimination – a 20-percentage-point increase from 2016; the share saying Jews face “a lot” of discrimination has nearly doubled, from 13% to 24%. The data regarding AAPI experiences and threats towards Jewish Americans pushes the College to reaffirm our commitment to create an environment that provides for inquiry and social justice.
Fostering Interdependence and Cultivating Inclusivity
In alignment with our university and college mission statements, we work towards inclusive excellence, understanding, and engagement across our differences. Interfaith work is central to this responsibility. Indeed, activities of service and compassion, inspired by gratitude, offer a meeting place for people from different values perspectives to cooperate together.
The College has shared resources, like the micro-syllabus on Asian American politics, with our faculty. The College offers several courses of study where students learn about diverse customs, traditions, and perspectives, which allow them to appreciate and expand their knowledge of differing cultures and societies.
Ethnic and Race Studies
Languages & Cultures
Religion and Theology
Fostering a culture of thoughtfulness, tolerance, and caring benefits the College, its community, and society at large. Through learning and working together, we become attuned to the thoughts of those around us and aim to combat ignorance and divisive rhetoric through continued study as well as expressions and deeds that advance justice and gratitude for our similarities...and differences.
- Sister of Mercy
Wed September 1, 2021
Celebrating Heritage and Hope
- Building More Equitable Curricula
Wed August 4, 2021
Culturally relevant curriculum better serves all students.
- Reflecting on Change, Community, Liberty, and Equality
Sat July 3, 2021
The process of reflection involves contemplation about events or activities that impact us collectively and individually.
- Hope Rising
Wed June 2, 2021
Light at the end of the COVID tunnel.
- An Attitude of Gratitude for the Cal Lutheran Community
Fri April 30, 2021
We remain immensely thankful for the individuals who contribute to the College’s success not only on Cares Day but throughout the year.
- Bridging Divides, Transforming Our World
Thu April 1, 2021
Seeking unity and understanding through embracing diversity.
- Wonder Women
Thu March 4, 2021
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we honor the pioneering women who questioned the status quo and paved the way for significant changes to benefit humanity. These brave individuals confronted societal restrictions and led movements to advance the rights of women and communities of color.
- Celebrating Diversity This Black History Month
Wed February 17, 2021
As we commemorate Black History Month, we recognize the myriad contributions and achievements Black Americans have made to our country over the past 245 years.
- CLU Dean Ascends in Her Role of Community and National Leader
Thu February 11, 2021
kidSTREAM, Ventura County Children’s Museum, elected Jessica Lavariega Monforti, Ph.D. as vice president in January 2021.