Dear Harvard College Students,
As the fall semester ends and winter break begins, I have been reflecting on the last year and thinking about what is to come. Each one of you should take great pride in the impact you have made on this campus through your academic work, your interactions with your friends and professors, and the meaningful change you create for the College and our society. I am grateful for all that you bring to our community.
For me, the break between semesters offers a time for quiet contemplation and an opportunity to open up space to see the world and myself more clearly. I had an opportunity to begin this reflection last week as I joined my family in decorating our Christmas tree. When we were finished, I found myself thinking about how I could choose to see the lights we wrapped around the branches as more than simply a festive decoration–that I could choose to see them as a reminder that while the wintry darkness can often be discouraging or overwhelming, I have an opportunity to shine light on that darkness every day. Sometimes the transformative experience we often speak of here at Harvard means illuminating something that someone else may view as scary or strange, or having something illuminated for us so that we can see it in a new way. During the holidays, as my colleague Dean Nitin Nohria reminded me, this symbolism can be seen all around us: in the lights emanating from menorahs throughout Chanukah; the clay lamps of Diwali; and the candles atop the kinara during Kwanzaa. I hope you will never hesitate to shine light in the darkness, not only throughout the holiday season, but into the new year and beyond.
On behalf of everyone at Harvard College, I want to offer you our best wishes for the holiday season and for a happy and healthy 2019. I hope that over the break you will make space to do what feels right to you to renew and recharge. I hope you have the opportunity to relax, reconnect with your friends and family, and enjoy this break in the academic calendar.
We look forward to seeing you back on campus in January.
Danoff Dean of Harvard College