Column By John Warren Joe Abi-Khattar shook his head when he saw a picture of himself in the International Order…
Column by John Warren I went looking for my father in Chautauqua the other day. It was never unusual to go…
After four jam-packed weeks of morning worship, afternoon lectures, meditation classes, cooking lessons and attending shows, the Chautauqua Scholars are wrapping up their time on the grounds.
Joseph Mghames had never been to the United States before from his home country of Lebanon, and he had only one thing on which to base his expectations: movies. And to the self-proclaimed movie addict’s surprise, some of the words, jokes and cultural idiosyncrasies he came across when he arrived in the U.S. carried the warm glow of familiarity.
Piled on the ledge of the Bestor Plaza fountain are 13 college students from seven different countries. It is their first time at Chautauqua, and for some, their first time in the United States. They met at the beginning of the season to embark on four weeks of spiritual, cultural and artistic renewal. Tomorrow, they bid farewell to Chautauqua and to one another.
They are not the first or the last group to visit Chautauqua as the International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons scholars.
IOKDS is a nondenominational Christian service organization founded in 1886, whose headquarters have been at Chautauqua the past 40 years. It owns four houses on the grounds, and every summer houses students from around the world for a type of spiritual retreat.
“It’s a time to renew your mind, your body and your soul,” said Valerie Roberts, IOKDS Chautauqua Scholarship director. “It’s a time to go to church, it’s a time to meditate, it’s a time to have fun with people that you would never have had any contact with in your life.”
Longtime friends Heather Whitehouse and Caroline LeVasseur have a near-infinite list of common interests, but none is more thought-provoking and unique than Chautauqua Institution.
Whitehouse and LeVasseur first heard about Chautauqua independently through friends. After their first visits, both women immediately became hooked on the experience and began making the yearly trip to Chautauqua a habit.
“We spend at least a week at a clip, and then sometimes go back for an additional day or two over the summer,” Whitehouse said.