by Charly Mann
There was no better to place to learn the John Dunne lesson that “no man is an island” than Chapel Hill in the 1950s. No one in town felt isolated because there was so much family and community interaction, and everyone growing up at that time had the opportunity to learn and be influenced by a wide array of unique and highly intelligent individuals. In the 1950s, Chapel Hill had a myriad of great role models for young people. The majority of adults were in their mid to late thirties and had endured the hardships of the Great Depression, and most of the men had experienced the hell of World War II. Almost all of the men, whether they were professors or merchants, had come from small southern farming communities and were the first members of their families to have had a college education. I was fortunate to know many of these people, and they were collectively a great influence on me. From them I learned courage and discipline, and that anything was possible if one was determined and worked hard. One common denominator of these people was that each had experienced huge hardships in their lives, but rather than becoming cynical or hopeless, they grew stronger and more optimistic. Each of them also taught me to think creatively to solve my problems.
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What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls. or the crisp October nights. No, our love for this place is based upon the fact that it is as it was meant to be, The University of the People.