Ms. Billoo addressing the audience.
By Dulce Maria Gray
Ms. Zahra Billoo, Executive Director for the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the United States’ largest Islamic civil liberties advocacy group, delivered an insightful and uplifting lecture on honoring the events of 9/11 and using our experiences to help us grow in understanding and respect for each other across the globe.
WVC’s Chaplain, Karen Wallace, spoke about the pain of loss, the open heart it leaves, and how that openness can be Members in the audience took turns reading lines from Billy Collins‘ poem, “The Names.”
Many students took the time to write, and many shared their responses aloud. One student, Jessica Tsao, a sophomore, composed this poem:
no darkness in the circle.
Where the hands of all colors
of a seamless city
from day and night.
At the end, everyone walked outside and Ms. Billoo and Chaplain Wallace released a white dove.
Right after Ms. Billoo and Chaplain Wallace released the white dove, a few of us were talking. I noticed Chaplain Wallace’s exquisite necklace and was taken with her thoughtfulness in wearing it for this event. I commented on its beauty and asked if I could photograph it. Later, as the group was dispersing, I noticed that Chaplain Wallace had slipped the dove in my handbag, and I was stunned, unsure of what to say. Such spontaneous kindness, on this particular day, right after an emotional time of feeling, openly, the pain on loss, including the recent death from cancer of Chaplain Wallace’s precious wife of decades, my colleague, Carol Abate… well, I had no words except to ask if she was sure. “Yes,” she said, “it’s a gift for you.” A gift of beauty and kindness, for me: thank you Karen; I will treasure your dove always!
Several people walked to the WVC September 11, 2001 Memorial Garden.
This garden is dedicated to the memory of all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, among them Mark Bingham (who grew up in Los Gatos) and Nicole Miller (who grew up in San Jose). Both had been students at West Valley College; both died on United flight 93 when it crashed into a field near Shanksville, PA. The rock in the middle of the two benches in the park has an inscription, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”