Dr. Deborah Vriend Van Duinen shares a hug with a student at convocation.

Quote Unquote: Convocation

Dr. Deborah Vriend Van Duinen shares a hug with a student at convocation.

Speaking during the Opening Convocation on Sunday, Aug. 28, at DeVos Fieldhouse, Dr. Deborah Vriend Van Duinen shared a three-point plan to help the incoming Class of 2026 make the most of the experience ahead.

The title of Van Duinen’s address, “Invitation to Hope: Knowing, Doing, Being,” was also her outline, providing what she described as three ways for the students to think about the newest chapter in their lives.

“These three ways describe what I believe we try to do here at Hope, what our mission is and what we offer you in terms of our academic program and co-curriculars,” said Van Duinen, who is the Arnold and Esther Sonneveldt Associate Professor of Education. She discussed each of the three in turn, but also emphasized that they’re components of a whole — a heady blend that is for each student to discern.

“I invite you to a transformative experience at Hope College, an experience that involves a messy mix of knowing, doing, and being, an experience that isn’t handed over to you but one that requires your active engagement,” she said. “My prayer for you is that the stories that you live here be ones that allow you to know, do and be as people at Hope in our broken world and people who live within a larger story, not just for the next four years but for the rest of your lives.”

Being, is the root of all of our knowing and doing and is integral to both.

She noted that knowing will involve learning more than facts and figures, with the students benefiting from the insights from the variety of academic disciplines they will study, and the student organizations, athletic teams, immersion trips, Bible studies and other opportunities outside of class. “[A]s you think about what you will learn and know at Hope College, I encourage you to invest in your learning,” Van Duinen said. “Ask hard questions. Resist easy answers. Put in time and effort. Be willing to change your mind. Read widely and learn from people who think differently than you. Allow for disagreements and learn from them. Take risks. Be willing to be wrong. Seek the truth.”

“Doing,” Van Duinen explained, both shapes and reflects the type of people the students will become.

“[A]t Hope, we want to help you develop loves, desires, and virtues steeped in the historic Christian faith,” she said. “Humility, wisdom, courage, moderation, integrity, perseverance. We want you to practice hospitality and gratitude, to seek justice and to love mercy.”

“Being,” she said, “is the root of all of our knowing and doing and is integral to both.”

“[T]here’s so much overlap between knowing, doing, and being,” she said. “When we dig into the rich ways these words can be defined and understood, I actually think it can become problematic to think about them as separate entities.

“But, maybe this isn’t a bad thing,” Van Duinen said. “Maybe this speaks to the liberal arts journey of starting out by wanting to put things, even people, into neat, tidy boxes and labels and then realizing at some point along the way that there is so much more overlap and messiness than initially anticipated. Maybe this is the beauty of the liberal arts. When done well, a liberal arts experience shows us the interconnectivity between everything, that knowing, doing and being can all exist in the same drawer of a file cabinet.”

Please visit the college online for a photo gallery from Orientation Weekend as well as the full text of the address and video of the Opening Convocation.