One from the Heart - Gift of Peace
Dr. Welsa Liao Fletcher, Dean of Arts and Sciences at the Technical College of the Lowcountry, sounds like a very complicated person from her lofty title, and yet she speaks her mind simply and with ease. She is able to talk about serious emotions, complicated issues, and deep-seated values in a manner so relaxed and comfortable that one is immediately drawn to her.
It was my privilege to spend an afternoon with Wesla at my kitchen table and discover what it is like to experience the company of a woman who is totally at peace with herself. Read on and I am sure you will agree.
Pink: Talk a bit about your childhood.
Wesla: My parents came from Mainland China. My father had come to the United States to finish studies for his Ph.D. and was trapped by the Communist Revolution. My mom escaped through Shanghai and they were married here. I was born in the States. We traveled a lot since my dad worked for an oil company and I have lived all over the country.
P: Were you strongly influenced by your parents?
Wesla: Yes, very much so. My parents always said that the key to acceptance in America was a good, well-rounded education. They were adamant that we learn to speak what my father called "middle class English". He said one could learn a language and other ways without loosing your own ethnicity. He felt it was of the utmost importance to keep your sense of self.
P: How would you define a well-rounded education?
Wesla: To have a well-rounded education you must have discipline. You need to learn to budget time, eat well, and exercise. You should not let any part of your discipline go to waste. Wellness is a big part of an educational picture, but wellness is not necessarily an end to itself. You should use health to help you follow your passion. I maintain myself not to be a body builder or health nut, but to allow me to feel well enough to follow my passion. I maintain my health and energy so that I can do the things that are important to me. My passion is education. I will do anything to help a student succeed.
P: How do you maintain your health?
Wesla: I love to run or walk on the beach with my husband. (Wesla is married to Dr. Doug Fletcher, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church on Hilton Head Island.) We exercise our dog. We grill year-round and eat well. I think a big part of our wellness program would surprise most people. We love to be around groups of happy people. We are very social and enjoy having functions in our home. It is good for you to laugh and have a good time. It's healthy to come out of yourself and be with others in settings where you can connect. People kind of take care of themselves when they come into our home. Doug and I really love to be with people and to see people connect with each other. We like potlucks because it is easy for everybody. It is fun to be with Christians having fun. Christians should have fun. We do not need to be serious all of the time. I think God wants us to enjoy the life he has given to us.
P: It is interesting that you say that. Recent medical studies have shown that people who are happy actually do live longer and are in better health.
Wesla: Faith is also a very important part of wellness. When you have faith it is impossible to be self-absorbed. When you know that you are loved, you gather confidence. It gives you purpose. You can really get through a lot when you know that God has a purpose for you.
P: Your faith seems to be a part of what makes you seem so at ease and confident.
Wesla: I believe God cares for me. He has guided my life for years. (Wesla is also an ordained Methodist minister.) It really matters very little to me if I impress. That is not the purpose of society or social gatherings. I really do care about people, but I guess I think more about people being of interest, rather than being concerned with what they think about me.
P: You give back in so many ways. What is one of your favorites?
Wesla: Our dog, Micah, is a Canine Good Citizen and a Therapy Dog International graduate. I take him to visit hospitals and assisted-care facilities. When I see a patient stroke my dog or give him a hug or doggy kiss, I see complete happiness. Micah loves it, I love it, and the care recipient loves it. It is impossible to be worried about yourself when you see others so happy.
My final question to Wesla was about core values.
This beautiful woman who has such a gift of confident
peace has a core value that we should all consider.
She said to me: "I love being loved by God."