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 Susanne Ristow's Letter to the College Community
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Posted - 2006 August 16 :  16:43:39  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
625 Calle de Valdez
Santa Fe, NM 87505

To Whomever It May Concern:

At the request of Sarah Shepherd, I am writing to you about my experience with the rafting program at St. Johnís College. Currently a junior at St. Johnís, I went on my first school rafting trip this spring break with Mark St. John. This experience has been invaluable to me personally, academically, and socially.

I joined the rafting trip as a guide-in-training. I have always loved rivers, and for a long time, I have wanted to become a white-water guide. I was excited about this trip (and the St. Johnís rafting program in general) because it was to give me the opportunity to become skilled in a sport unique to the desert southwest.

Although I looked forward to the spring break trip, I was not prepared for the experience I had. The rafting trip far exceeded my expectations. Floating down a river with 30 other Johnnies is an unparalleled event. I interacted with students whom I otherwise would have had little opportunity to get to know. Sitting around a campfire, late at night, I conversed with seniors about Faraday, with freshman about Aristotle, and with all about life at St. Johnís.

In the midst of the second semester of my junior year, I came on the trip harried and overwhelmed by the complexities of Kant, Maxwell, and Newton. The rafting trip entirely altered my outlook on both school and life. The wilderness lends tranquility to life, which let me relax and reflect on my time at St. Johnís. Like many other students on the rafting trip, I came back with a new enthusiasm for school; I felt a spark of vitality that had become dormant during the stress of junior year.

I attribute my positive rafting experience to Mark St. John. Mark does much more than merely organize the complicated logistics of traveling with 30 Johnnies on the river. Mark creates the tone of the rafting trip. As a former Johnny, he understands the issues we struggle with. He is an incredible mentor for students. I look up to Mark as an example of how to integrate the education and principles we examine at St. Johnís into oneís daily life. Moreover, his care for the students is obvious in the way he interacts with us. I have felt especially lucky to be a guide-in-training, because I have an even greater opportunity to learn from Mark.

The rafting trip, and my continued guide training with Mark St. John, has become one of my most positive experiences at St. Johnís College. Not only would I be heartbroken to lose Mark and the rafting program, but it would be a loss to the entire college community.


Susanne Ristow
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