Seen here descending at an 80-degree angle the wisdom-tooth wide steps of the old walls of Constantinople (to the breathless horror of the faculty below), Lane Jackson is a recent graduate of Stockton. His involvement with Stockton's theater arts has been extensive.
I am no longer a student at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. Done with my undergraduate experience I am forced to look to my future with all its possibilities, containing both its struggles and hopefully its successes. I am also inclined to look back to the wonderful experience of my undergraduate career and the wonderful experiences that have made me who I am today.
The Hellenic Studies are among the first I owe for my most powerful memories at Stockton. My first interaction with the Hellenic Studies was the production of the Odyssey. I was an actor and was able to be a part of the very insightful and meaningful discussion. Afterwards the discussion a member came up to me and talked to me for almost an hour about Hellenic Studies and I tried to take the lesson about claiming my own education to heart.
I owe them for both their support of the arts and for the dedicated work of several faculty members who have personally helped both my endeavors and the endeavors of countless students. The primary reason for this letter though is to right a wrong.
I was sent a year ago on one of the most meaningful events of my life. The entire cast of Stones from God was sent to Turkey in order to perform and take part in a convention. The purpose was the discussion of Greek culture that existed in Turkey for hundreds of years and understanding the complex relationship between those Greeks and the world around them.
The first response I had to this barrage of information and experiences could almost be compared to nausea. I couldn’t go three feet without learning something new all the while being surrounded by new sights, sounds and smells each competing for my attention. The sort of overwhelming knowledge that I stood literally at the conflux between my Western European background and another culture I had only read about was humbling. I remember most distinctly when the person to my left counted down from three and then informed me I was in Asia.
The small hotel we stayed at was the most hospitable place I had ever entered and I say that without exaggeration. The conference was a cornucopia of different theories and ideas all presented one right after the other. Even more interesting was the chance to meet these academics after the presentation when they were both far more relaxed and in all honesty far more talkative. I remember one night sitting with a woman who informed me that my perspective towards architecture and archeology was not simply wrong but criminal. The passion that she had for her field was more than intellectual but moral. So although I never had the chance to ask her name (she did frighten me) I still think about that conversation.
The performances both on the island and in Istanbul were unusual and powerful. Standing in the street while a group of men coming home from work stare at you all while wearing a bizarrely colored costume is a feeling hard to describe. It can perhaps be matched only by performing in a school of such historic significance while the Greek consulate watches. In the life of an actor every performance has meaning but those performances’ will always be different.
What else can be said? Each experience that the group for Hellenic studies allowed for me and my fellow students was amazing in its own powerful variation. Whether spiritual as we stood in the Agia Sofia or historical as we walked the walls of Byzantium. It was personal in the cementing of friendships both new and old or introspective as I spoke to people who I would never see again and who I knew would shape me.
The only regret I have and am now attempting to rectify was my inability to convey to you, the persons who made this possible, my gratitude. Even this is a failure. How do I thank you for the chance to walk with friends on the streets of a distant land. Or the chance to find out I was not the haggler I thought, when I managed to negotiate a hat from twenty all the way down to five lira. Only to discover the same hat for sale down the street for one.
Lane McLeod Jackson