Fullerton College Centennial


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By Jay Goldstein
January 20, 2012

Working on the Fullerton College Centennial Documentary

Over the past 12 months I have been asked to produce a video record of reflections by current and former employees and students.

The initial concept was to capture a perspective of history about Fullerton College. As I began to approached about 60 hours of interviews, I had a feeling that what I was engaged in was bigger than recording oral histories.

The project had become an ongoing tale of family, community, one of cultures, of sorrows and national achievements.

I had been privileged to walk through history with colleagues and students. I was given a gift enabling me to visualize decades of change and the nurturing and growth of an iconic area that has become known world wide, but to us it is home.

I witnessed a different perspective of the Southern California area, the nation and specifically the college as the stories were soon to reach 115 hrs.

There were stories of a college community during various wars. Of American students no longer being accepted as Americans and required leaving the college and local area within a week and placed in camps far from their homes….and the story of a college instructor who went to such a camp to present a student with her degree.

…Or the Iraq veteran struggling with stress in order to stay in class.

It is the tale of a coach waiting for his player to show up for practice only hours later notified that he died in a fiery car crash that day…and how the team gathered around the grave that week and played the rest of the season in his honor. The term “once a Hornet , always a Hornet” had a very different meaning for me.

Stories of long ago when faculty wives of would gather at the request of the college president’s wife to have afternoon tea - or during the Easter break an egg hunt for the local and college children would commence on the campus quad.

Tales of a campus hushed in shock over the death of a young president, of athletes gathering around the flagpole to thwart efforts of destroying a nation’s symbol or streaking across the quad in the newest form of iconic independence!

…Of points of view of acceptance or not of a south East Asian culture entrance onto a campus of strangers after a devastating war… How the area changed over decades, of migrant camps and barrios, the growth of aerospace and amusement parks…of freeways, diversity, ideologies and challenging priorities.

What we hope to produce is a video documentary from these recordings - a credible view into our past…divided up into 6 one half hour programs. In April 2013 when the Centennial museum installation opens at the Fullerton Museum Center, and the budget hopefully coalesces…several short video vignettes will be part of the exhibition that can be screened. Our story of the community and our area will be on display.

I did ask the interviewee’s what was it about the college that kept them working or teaching for many years, or students who stayed on for many more years than needed…

There was no real short answer…no profound articulation of feeling, but there were two words that were constantly part of the vocabulary - home and community.

And this is summed up in the story of a graduate more than a decade ago. One who loves the college so much that he had his wedding reception on campus and now with his family, parks his car and with his kids in hand, strolls the Quad late in the afternoon - a time when a golden wash of sun paints the surrounding buildings and the sky has lavender blush…and he tells them this is where dad went to school and hopefully you will - he tells me that the college is still home for him – a place he feels centered…he wanted me and his family to know that.