As I look back at the time I spent with Elie Wiesel during that Winter Term, of course I remember the intellectual experience and emotional weight of reading his works and discussing them with him. I particularly remember being struck by his ability to grab a very difficult question and bring everyone in the room right into the complexity and sometimes unease, challenging us to stretch our thinking in new and unexplored ways.
The experience that struck me most, however, was a small moment between the two of us. Winter Term had ended, a new semester had come, and he came back to campus for a visit. I can’t remember the exact reason, but we had received an email from Professor Johnston letting us know he would be on campus and what time he would be available. The student government elections had just been held the day before, and I had won my election for ECOS president. Unbeknownst to me, he’d heard that I had won—Professor Johnston must have told him—and when I entered the room, before I could even begin to address him, he greeted me as “Madam President.”
I will always be grateful for the incredible intellectual opportunity of studying with him. What will always stay with me, though, is that Elie Wiesel, a man whose experience and scholarship were so profound, would also engage and share in the joy and excitement of something that happened to me—just one of thousands of his students.
—Grace Gair ’08