Lilly House offers mini-grants, meditation and more

Lilly Endowment gave a generous grant of $1.78 million to The College of Wooster to open a chapter of a program called the Lilly Project. Each of the 88 schools that received Lilly Endowment chooses its own way to use the grant. At The College of Wooster, the Lilly House (1452 Beall Avenue), which opened in September 2003, acts as the center for the Lilly Project on campus.

The house itself is a beautifully renovated Victorian house where community members can unwind peacefully, whether through journaling, meditation or just enjoying some quiet time. It is designed for the whole campus community; faculty and staff are welcome to come as well as students.

The main focus of the Lilly Project is to assist in the exploration of vocation. The Lilly Project believes vocation is more than just your job. It is a passion or calling that may be found in a career as well as elsewhere. The Lilly House encourages students to ask themselves questions such as, “Who are you called to be?” The project also supplies resources like grants and programs to help people find the answers.

Lilly House offers mini-grants to students ranging from $500 to $1,000. A group of three to four students must apply for these grants. The money is to be used for a single initiative somehow related to vocational study.

One way students explore vocation is through the various summer programs offered by Lilly House. There are both abroad and domestic programs available. Most of the programs are open-ended and it is up to the students to design their programs while Lilly House offers the resources and the opportunity. Robin Konscak ’09, who went to South Africa this summer through the Lilly House, said she really enjoyed the freedom of being in a situation where “you could uncover at your own pace in your own interest.”

There is no minimum G.P.A. to apply to these programs and they are not limited to particular majors. In fact, Azimuth, which is one of the eight-to-ten-week abroad programs, requires the participant to do something that is outside of their major. There are also legal and medical humanitarian internships available. Keep your eyes open, because the application process for these programs begins in October.

Exploring vocation is an ongoing process. Even when there is still uncertainty after coming home from a Lilly House abroad program, the valuable life experience remains as well. Konscak mentioned that the Lilly House gave her the book “How Can I Help? Stories and Reflection on Service” by Ram Dass and Paul Gorman, which she found helpful in her own service and reflections.

The Center for Academic Advising has been moved to the Lilly House as well. The Center is a place for underclassmen who need advice about their education and eventual career but may not have the one-on-one kind of academic attention that juniors and seniors receive from the Independent Study process. Students can go to the Center for Academic Advising for assistance and direction in making their experience at the College the best and most productive possible to meet their personal goals.

The Lilly House also provides a lot of relaxing and mentally stimulating recreational activities. For instance, every Friday at 3 p.m. the house hosts a student-driven journaling session. Tea and other refreshments are offered and someone from the group presents a prompt for everyone to respond to or reflect upon in their journals. After journaling, attendees usually engage in discussion and reflection about the prompt.

Lilly House also has a meditation room inside the building. The room is open during business hours and is limited to two hours per person on a busy day. Interim Director of Lilly House Susan Hawkins-Wilding has said that she is willing to loan keys out to responsible members of the community to use the meditation room after hours. There is also an extensive library with books on philosophy, religion and personal growth, as well as poetry from various cultures.

Starting in mid-September there will be a reintegration program on Mondays from 6:30 to 8 p.m., designed for students coming back from abroad or Lilly House programs to debrief a little. Students go on physically and emotionally taxing journeys, such as to African villages to work with natives afflicted with HIV. Even after less extreme journeys, students may feel intense culture shock from traveling to or returning from unfamiliar places. These experiences may be unsettling, so students are encouraged to attend the reintegration program to discuss and learn about abroad experiences. This year the program is open to the public as well, with the goal of invoking discussion that transcends western worldviews.

The doors are open, so head on down to 1452 Beall Avenue and see what Lilly House has to offer.