Retirement celebration for an amazing couple

Los Angeles Travel Blog

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Me and the Brays
Tonight was the retirement celebration for Drs. Donald and Marjorie Bray, who are a husband-wife couple and head of Latin American Studies at Cal State LA. I haven't known them very long but right away I knew how special they were. Donald's class was one of the possible electives for my post-bac International Economics certificate so the first time I met them was March of 2007. Some students have had them for 6 years (undergrad and grad school). Tonight was really touching as CalState is forcing them to retire (I think they are close to 70 years old).

When I met Donald less than a year ago I was mesmerized by his stories. He fought in the Korean War, did the Peace Corp (which he hated) and took classes on annual trips to Cuba even though it was 10x harder to do this through the administration.
Marjorie and one of her presents
After my first couple of classes with Donald, I came home with a fascination for Cuba and Haiti, and a completely new view of Mexico and Latin America. I've never seen a class so involved in their own learning and achievement.

Today, we celebrated their retirement and I heard a dozen students speak about their experience with the Brays. Then Majorie and Donald went up for a minute to talk as well. Marjorie, who I haven't had a class with talked about how she lived through the women's movement and never believed she could be a teacher. She went back to school with Donald's support and she was just so happy every day to be able to teach students, and that after her 4 children, she felt as if she had thousands more.

Donald and Marjorie are a rare story in the public school system story.
One of the old MUNers hamming it up on the left
I've never met a couple who had so much life experience and who believe in changing the world actually be in a classroom. Their retirement is such a great loss and Donald ended with "I grew up unable to stand suffering or wrongdoing and they put me in a war and put a rifle in my hand expecting me to kill people. That made me so jaded and resentful, and I recuperated by having all of you. How I'm going to trade all this for a rocking chair I don't know.." It was so incredibly touching, and I am reminded of how I always savoured every little story they had. I envy students who have had them for multiple classes and had the benefit of their guidance. I could sure use some of that.

It seems from the testimonials that were given that many students were asked to push themselves to participate in the Model UN. CalStateLA is a state school, where most students are not given the attention, resources or privileges that some of my friends and I have had. The lives of these students were changed by visiting New York and participating with hundreds of students in a wonderful simulation. The best of all they came out of the experience believing they could actually accomplish more than they thought and have a voice in this world. And every young person should believe they can be an instrument of good.
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Me and the Brays
Me and the Brays
Marjorie and one of her presents
Marjorie and one of her presents
One of the old MUNers hamming it u…
One of the old MUNers hamming it …
Full house!
Full house!
Our current MUN President Anya and…
Our current MUN President Anya an…