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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Sitting on history

The last few weeks I've been sitting in a different room than normal for work meetings. Sitting in a not very inspiring meeting my gaze was distracted by the cabinet at the side of the room.

The imposing books made me want to look some more, my eye was drawn to what was behind the glass door.  At lunch I investigated.

The volumes were entitled 'Student Register' and dated back to the early 1900's.

I pulled one off the shelf, and found individual handwritten entries in beautifully written ink pen, letters curling on the page. Then I realised, these were all the old student records for everyone who had studied with the College where I work since the turn of the century.

I took another volume at random of the shelf, 1944. And then it hit. The address of one of the students was 'Stalag' and there underlined by the students name was the abbreviation 'P.O.W.' I flicked further and found another. My mind reeled, the College had supplied material to prisoners of war in Germany, they in awful conditions had studied our courses. I am responsible for Student Support, I cannot even imagine what student support was like to these students.

All this time I along with many others have sat in this room, and never known the secrets that were behind the glass doors. We were sitting on history, without even realising. I am humbled of the heritage that belongs to the organisation I work for, taken aback by how little I knew of that history, and wondering about all the other stories that our hidden behind the entries in those books.

Some days you just realise how small you are in the overall picture.


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