Joys of Living and Learning in Massachusetts, USA
BY TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 29 Oct 2018
26 Oct 2018 – Many pilgrims from England seeking religious freedom had come to settle in 1620 in the Bay area near the modern city of Boston adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean. It was then called Bay State or sometimes as Pilgrim State. Subsequently, it acquired the modern name after the indigenous tribe named MASSACHUSETT that used to live in this region. The word in the tribal language meant people living in the Great Hill that was near to Boston
Massachusetts was the sixth state to join United States in February 1788. It strongly resisted British oppression and protested against unjust taxation. It was the first state to abolish slavery. The State has evolved economically, politically and culturally over the years. The well-known Kennedy family that produced senators and President John F Kennedy has their ancestral home in this State.
It also has several good universities and academic centers such as Harvard, University of Brandeis, Tufts, MIT, University of Massachusetts (UMass), Amherst College, Boston College, Smith College, and several other academically excellent institutions. The UMass and the Amherst College were in Amherst itself but Smith College was some distance away, in Northampton.
The Amherst College was a boys’ college and the Smith admitted only women students but it was not uncommon for relationships to develop between students of these two Colleges. One of the most widely known relations that developed and evolved into marriage was between the grandson of the former President Dwight Eisenhower and the daughter of another former President Richard Nixon. No wonder these Colleges were keenly sought after by brilliant students.
University of Massachusetts is a well-known academic institution for teaching and research. I had studied in its Amherst Campus for five years more than half a century ago. One of my most memorable memories of my stay in UMass was a visit with a group of other students to a neighboring farm where we could see the moon clearly. It was a full moon night. A few days earlier on July 20, 1969 two Americans who were circling the moon in their Apollo 11 spacecraft, landed safely on the moon in their lunar module Eagle. Like millions of other people, the landing on the moon by two men awed us that night – how could people land on the moon? Yes, technology had advanced beyond any limit. Today, of course, there have been other spacecrafts, which have landed astronauts on the moon.
Another point that I still remember is a strange word that is hard to pronounce. I learnt that there is a funny word called mugwump in the indigenous language of the MASSACHUSETT people.
The funny word meant something that I did not then know. Now, half a century later, I have learnt that it means a person who sits on the fence and is not able to decide what to do.
Well, there is no time limit for learning.
Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi. firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 29 Oct 2018.
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