October 2007 – European College of Liberal Arts, Berlin, and the start of a new term, a new year and a new experience, as students gather from all over the world to start a one-year programme of intensive study.
Although ECLA is a young and growing institution, it is clear that other students have gone before and a humble body of traditions have formed. The most personal expressions are found on the red walls of the ‘party’ room, covered with the marks of students who have gone before, echoing nights spent free from books and thoughts inspired by those books. Following the success of previous years, a dinner to mark the opening of the new academic year and a trip to the Harz Mountains gave faculty and students the opportunity to meet outside the academic environment. Back in Berlin, an introductory lecture on the meaning of ‘liberal arts’ established the academic tone, and a city walk offered a taste of the rich cultural heritage of the German capital.
For all the traces of the past, ECLA is infused with dynamism. There is a sense of being a part of something new and ‘different’. Particularly new (as compared with last year) is the opportunity to choose two elective courses (instead of one). Vitality characterizes ECLA. Professors and seminar leaders teach with vigorous and infectious enthusiasm and students dash from a lecture on Plato to one on conceptual art and thereafter to Kierkegaard, or to a class in acting and directing. Connections are made and ideas formed. This is the ground on which we who make up the class of 2008 can start to claim our identity. Yes, we are part of an ongoing development, but we are also a distinct group of students within this process. We too hope to leave our mark.
By Martin Lipman (’08, Netherlands)