If National Philanthropy Day, celebrated every November 15, enables the country to recognize big and small acts of generosity—through giving, volunteering and charitable engagement—there’s plenty of room to recognize our own engaged Kalamazoo College communities such as the class of 1973.
Volunteers from the alumni group connected with their classmates as a part of their 50th reunion to secure more than $300,000 from 64 of its members to endow a scholarship supporting K students.
Scholarships open the doors to K’s transformative education and experiential opportunities. This year’s recipients of the Class of 1973 Endowed Scholarship include Shannon Abbott ’24. She recently reflected on her time abroad in Japan, an experience that she says broadened her horizons.
“I love language learning and wanted to try a new language while studying at K,” she said. “I chose Japanese because I already had an interest in Japanese culture and thought it was a unique language to have the privilege to learn. Upon taking my first Japanese classes, I made close friends and had lots of fun, so I continued to study Japanese. Although Japanese is difficult, I find it to be a very rewarding language to learn and practice.”
The six-month study abroad experience allowed Abbott to meet new people through a homestay and an internship where she studied tea culture by learning sadou, a tea ceremony, and working in a tea shop. She also visited relevant sites in Kyoto before returning to K and applying her knowledge toward Japanese department events and its official social media.
Abbott added that she gained a clearer sense of independence that classroom experiences wouldn’t have provided.
“I think that being in an environment where you completely surrender to being a student—as a foreigner to the language, customs and norms—opens one up to new ways of thinking and thriving,” she said. “I believe I gained more life experience and experiential knowledge during those six months than I have throughout most of my adult life. I am extremely grateful for the funds I have received because they allowed me to live a dream. I made so many connections and friends in Japan, and I plan to go back and continue building those relationships.”
National Philanthropy Day is an opportunity to honor and celebrate the contributions of alumni and friends who support Kalamazoo College through their time, talent and charitable giving.
“The generosity of individuals and groups like the class of 1973 not only enhances educational opportunities for our students, it also inspires others to contribute to the growth and success of future generations,” Vice President for Advancement Karen Isble said. “This day serves as a reminder of the vital role that philanthropy plays in shaping a brighter future for students at K.”