Self Reflection & Defining My Four Corners
The concept of four corners of the world is an ancient one, recognized in most ancient religions as the reflection of the compass rose, the four equinoxes and/or solstices, or the four hemispheres. It has become a phrase synonymous with expansion; there is no place that is not encompassed within the four corners of the world.
It is simultaneously comforting and challenging to me that nothing and no one can slip through its cracks. On the one hand, it is a unifying idea: we are all united and we all exist within this one place, no one is left out or left behind. It can also be seen as provocation: how do you get beyond these four walls?
Philosophizing aside, the phrase is inherently flawed – it is literally impossible to fit a sphere into a square. Instead, these corners have to be ever-changing points on a sliding scale. There are endless points in which you can stand and declare a corner of the world. It is reasonable to assume then, if one cannot finitely identify the four corners of the world, no one can ever accomplish seeing all four. And that is why this phrase fascinates me, as it is invites a sense of exploration, which is a foundational facet of the human condition.
Everyone’s four corners of the world are different, which means every person’s viewpoint from any one of their four corners is different. If I believe in any one thing, it is that our differences define our humanity. Diversity makes our world dynamic and vibrant and ultimately worthwhile. It is my mission and that of the Global Education Office (GEO) to ensure we provide opportunities for every single student to explore their own four corners of the world. And the best part? They come back to Washington College and share their discoveries with us. Not just with the team in GEO, but in their classrooms, their dormitories, to their friends, to the community. The students who travel abroad in any capacity promote constructive change by challenging stagnation and prompting discussion when they return because education is truly boundless and infinite.
I invite you to look through the gallery below, which are polaroid photographs of forty Washington College students, staff, and faculty who have either studied abroad, lived abroad, worked abroad, or volunteered abroad. During Washington College’s celebration of International Education Week, my colleague and I set up a table in Hodson Hall with a camera, a map, and some pins, asking everyone who passed by to ‘pin themselves’ on our world map. We did so until we exhausted our film supply.
So tell us where your four corners of the world are. Share them and show them and support those around you as they seek their own. We hope this publication will grow as we undergo more reconstruction and revision, and we can’t wait to share it with you.
Written by Assistant Director for Study Abroad Alexandra Levy ‘15