DUMAGUETE CITY – Once again, on August 28th 2018, Silliman University will commemorate its Founder’s Day and the city will come alive with exciting activities, booths and parades to celebrate the event. As expected, Sillimanians from all over the country and other parts of the world will be coming home to Dumaguete for the occasion.
For this issue, I thought of writing about the “X Factor” we, Sillimanians, share that is distinctly ours: the Silliman Spirit. Over the years, people have been amazed by the power of the Silliman Spirit to connect people from all walks of life, in all parts of the world.
Indeed, when Sillimanians meet, a vibrant energy emanates, touching hearts and minds across the room. And in an instant, people are no longer mere acquaintances but friends bound by shared memories of happy and challenging experiences when they were students or professors of “dear, old Silliman.”
What then is the essence of the Silliman Spirit? How does it differ from other universities’ school spirit? Over the years, writers and poets have attempted to put it into words but have not quite come close to truly capturing its essence. I shall merely attempt to describe it, as I have personally experienced it.
For me, it’s a shared memory of a happy time, an old world gone by, a life of simplicity and genuine friendships. A shared experience of people caring for each other; a collective journey back to a time of sacrifice, challenges and hardships experienced by those who chose to study in an excellent American -founded Christian university.
Most people who study in Silliman are from Dumaguete, a small, tight-knit city of some 85,000 residents, as of recent count. They have known each other since they were quite young, hence the familiarity and friendship stemming from way back. When new students from other parts of the Visayas and Mindanao come to Silliman, they are added on to this core group in a warm gesture of inclusion. There is no difference whether one has studied in Silliman since grade school or is a transferee in college. The Silliman spirit welcomes everyone.
Perhaps it’s the spirit of cooperation, where one is inspired and encouraged by mentors and fellow classmates, as opposed to stark competition or rivalry among each other. Perhaps it’s the collective mindset of being in a Christian university where God’s presence is hugely felt everywhere. Perhaps there may be other, bigger reasons for this sense of oneness with the Silliman community.
Through it all, the Silliman Spirit lives on, drawing people closer to each other as one big community looking up to an eternal and Almighty God.