Dear friend of Berry College:
Berry's motto is "Not to be ministered unto, but to minister." We teach that one important end of education is serving others. Our century-old educational mission is linked to ideas voiced during the earliest days of this country's history. In 1630, John Winthrop spoke what have turned out to be prophetic words to his flock of English immigrants just before they left their ship to begin life in the new world: "Thus stands the cause between God and us: we are entered into a covenant with Him for this work: we have taken out a commission .... For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us."
Over the years, historians have cited this passage about "a city upon a hill" as they describe the phenomenon of "American exceptionalism," our conviction that we are different from other people and that we have a special covenant with Our Maker. In colonial times, we may indeed have thought that the New Jerusalem had been established here. We certainly thought that ours was truly a New World in which humankind was at last able to remake itself. Moreover, we seem to have accepted the notion that the eyes of all people are upon us, as Winthrop said. Winthrop's statement lived on in the words of social and political protesters of 30 and more years ago who shouted "the whole world is watching, the whole world is watching." Behind that cry is the conviction that something special has been established on these shores, that Americans are indeed examples to others, and that our standards should be higher than moral standards elsewhere.
Winthrop also argued that life in the New World meant actively loving one's neighbors: "we must love one another with a pure heart fervently, we must bear one another's burdens, we must not look only on our own things but also on the things of our brethren." It is not enough that we should be virtuous in ourselves, we must be virtuous in respect to our neighbors, both near and far. The spirit of philanthropy is a remarkable and enduring feature of the American civilization.
Times change; values endure
Throughout Berry's history, our own founding principles have endured. From the first, Miss Berry spoke of an education of the head, the heart, and the hands: intellectual development, spiritual growth, and honest work performed well. Our work opportunity program in which 80 percent of our students participate is complementary to our volunteer services program. In both, students roll up their sleeves and put their intelligence and energy to the test. At Berry, students act upon their knowledge and act upon their beliefs.
In the year 2000, there are three major ways we attempt to meet Martha Berry's -- and John Winthrop's -- challenge to serve others. We sponsor special activity days during which large numbers of students carry out volunteer service at a number of sites in Rome and Floyd County. We also have organizations that carry out continuing voluntary service activities. And we are one of the original Bonner colleges, offering a scholarship program that enables students to pay their way through college while working in volunteer service.
||Berry students learn on the job as they participate in the on-campus work opportunity program. Daniel Vaughn, above, is one of 50 Berry students employed as BITS or "Berry Information Technology Students." BITS perform a wide range of computing support jobs on campus, supplementing the work done by the college's computing staff members. In exchange, students earn not only a paycheck but also valuable training and work experience.