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The Question Insights From Response Readers

We Asked You: What world-changing event have you witnessed up close?

Here’s what you said:

As a European studies professor and self-professed Europhile, I was privileged and delighted to be in Germany leading the Seattle Pacific European Quarter on October 3, 1990, the day East Germany and West Germany became one country again. The fall of the Wall and the reunification of Germany are vital pieces of a velvet revolution that has changed dramatically the geographical and political shape of Europe and the world, and SPU students and faculty were on site to experience, witness, and celebrate these events up close.

Mike Macdonald
SPU Professor Emeritus of European Studies
Redmond, Washington

Tuesday, January 20, 2009, in Washington, D.C., I stood on the National Mall in 28-degree weather, and watched the course of history, as I knew it, change. The 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, took the oath of the highest office in the nation. This was not just my witness of a black man taking office. This was my witness of someone who looks like me. The witness of something I never thought I would see in my lifetime. This witness was also of a mall full of pride-filled and hopeful people, some that looked like me, but many who did not.

Darlene DuBose ’94, MEd ’99
Alexandria, Virginia

New Year’s Eve 1992. I stood on the famous Charles Bridge over the frozen Vltava River in Prague, Czechoslovakia, shivering in the bitter cold. Tens of thousands of people had gathered in the city to await the stroke of midnight and the peaceful separation of one country into two. The crowd roared when fireworks from Pražský hrad, the castle on the hill, announced the coming of 1993. I witnessed the birth of the Czech Republic and the Republic of Slovakia.

Leslie McAuliff Leber ’91
Beaux Arts, Washington

Anybody who lived in Washington or Oregon in 1980 saw one of the truly world-changing events — the eruption of Mount St. Helens. The mushroom cloud from the second eruption (May 25, 1980, as I recall) was visible from south Seattle where I was living as a 14-year-old.

Tim Nelson ’87
SPU Professor of Biology

When I was a new assistant professor at Seattle Pacific University in the 1980s, I had the opportunity to help organize a series of discussions here in Seattle about preventing nuclear war. Because of my expertise on the USSR, I was asked to co-chair the program committee for public discussions on the topic and given special responsibility for an opening session in the Paramount Theater. I was delighted when SPU joined Seattle University in sponsorship of the October 29, 1983, event. We held our breath during all the months of hard work to organize the event and secure speakers: Would the public be interested in hearing diverse political views on such a frightening topic? As we got underway, someone grabbed me backstage and said I should stop and look out at the audience. There was not one empty seat in the Paramount Theater. It was an exhilirating moment of history for me to witness: a time when the people of Seattle gathered under sponsorship of the YMCA Metrocenter and two Christian universities to hear intellectually challenging views on a topic of vital importance to our country.

Kathleen Braden
SPU Professor of Geography

I have seen the world shrink. Both of my children were born in Korea; my brother-in-law came from Iran. My new daughter-in-law is Japanese. When I was a child I knew only white people. This new, smaller world is much more interesting.

Alice Aldridge O’Grady ’75
Coupeville, Washington

The series finale of Cheers. It was my first real television experience, the first show I watched with my parents when I was approaching adolescence. Beyond anchoring the NBC Thursday night lineup that eventually gave way to Friends and the genre of young metropolitan singles it spawned, Cheers gave me a lifelong love of television and pursuit of making my own scripted TV show.

Greg Piper ’01

First, being in Europe during the 30th anniversary of the ending of World War II in 1975. Second, perhaps not world-changing, but seeing a piece of sculpture owned by Seattleites pictured in a German-language art history book and then actually seeing the piece at the Seattle Art Museum sometime later.

Katherine McEwen ’81

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What world-changing event have you witnessed up close? Tell others through this moderated bulletin board, and read what others have said.

You can also answer the new question for the upcoming Autumn 2013 issue.

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