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Thank you Dr. Davidson, Ms. Tesh, honored guests, colleagues and of course, the students of the Language and Culture Center.

As I have tried to think of what to say to you today in this the semester of our 25th anniversary, one memory continued to play through my mind –

When I was a little girl in far West Texas, I lived with my family on a cotton farm in the country. Because there was no big city close to us, our family radio did not receive strong transmissions during the daytime. But on a clear night, we could listen to music from as far as Dallas and Ft. Worth- 300 miles away, As a little girl, I remember one song in particular that I loved to hear – it was called “Far Away Places”.    The words went like this…

Far away places with strange sounding names

Far away over the sea

Those far away places with the strange sounding names

Are calling   – calling to me

     When I would hear that song, I would imagine places far away with strange sounding names (at least for a little Texas girl) – names like Turkey, Korea, Venezuela, . Those names called to me

25 years ago, Dr. Joyce Valdes gave me the opportunity to answer that call.

      And today, as I look around this room, I wonder about each one of us here – in some way I suspect that everyone in this room has heard a call like that – a call to go to far away places, to learn about far away places and somehow to make those far away places our homes.

Dr. Valdes was answering her own call 25 years ago – a call she felt to create a place for the learning of English language and culture – a place with integrity, excellence and heart. And she did. And in doing so, she created a place for the rest of us to answer our own calls.

For those of us who work here, this has been a lifelong process – involving calls from among others Spain, France, Greece, Japan, Brazil, Iran, Great Britian, Italy, Rwanda, France, Liberia, Peru, S. Arabia, Venezuela, Argentina, Germany, Turkey, Thailand, Guatemala, Algeria and our life’s work emerged from answering those calls. And now, we become a way station for those who are answering their own calls from a far away place with a strange sounding name – Houston   Texas     USA

And you – the students in answering your call to this far away place with a strange sounding name, Houston Texas USA – become a call to someone else – calling forth in them new ways to live life – possibly new ways to be a friend or a teacher – new and different ways to solve problems – new ways to experience our lives. And we find that ultimately that was really the call all along – not to places but to people.

Carol M. Archer, Ed D

June 2000

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