Happy Holidays From SMPA!

December 14, 2020

Alt Text

To the SMPA Community, 

It has been quite a year at SMPA during an unprecedented year for the country and the world.

It has been a year of achievements – successful online courses; “only-at-SMPA” events that brought us in contact with remarkable speakers on important topics; professional recognition for many folks; amazing internships and new jobs; and terrific levels of productivity reflected in books, articles, news stories and creative work. SMPA faculty, students and alumni were everywhere in the media and the 2020 campaign.

It has been a year of resilience in the face of uncertainty and adversity. This year has pushed us to figure out what we got so we can adapt to changing circumstances. We had to be quick on our feet to be strong, patient, innovative and caring. Life always demands us to be resilient, but this year, we have been all thrown into this massive, unique experiment in collective resilience. 

It has been a year of generosity and kindness – we have gone the extra mile to support others, especially those in need with our time, words, and financial help.

It has been a year of challenges on multiple fronts - work, family, health, everyday communication. Nothing has been what it used to be. Thanks for everything you have done to support each other in these difficult, socially distanced times.

And it has been a year of personal sadness and sorrow for those who lost loved ones. Our thoughts are with you.

As we approach the holiday season, I’d like to share one wish for next year.

This past year, as we dealt with a novel pandemic, has reinforced my belief in the importance of social curiosity. That is, understanding the world from the perspective of others, especially those who are different from us and/or are less privileged than us. I have been reminded of this while reading student applications that describe the varied impact of the pandemic on their families and wellbeing, as well as during numerous conversations with students, staff, and faculty.

I think some of the best journalism, social media threads, and public speeches this year fostered social curiosity by featuring powerful voices and moving narratives about lives that were upended by the pandemic, especially the lives of people who rarely make news and voices that do not occupy a prominent position in the public consciousness.

My wish is that we approach others with curiosity, empathy, and generosity. We need to cultivate other-orientedness (the sociologist in me speaking) to move towards a more inclusive and equal society, especially as we take stock of the impact of the pandemic in our society.

We should continue to bring such a sensibility in our work and into our workplaces, so we remain open-minded, engaged, and willing to revisit our perspectives in learning, teaching, research, service, creative work, and everything else we do at SMPA. 


Wish you a happy and safe holidays!  

Director Waisbord