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The Hub of the Universe: The New England area offers opportunity, history, and beauty to its newcomers.

Michael J. Ring

By now you have received many warm welcomes to the MIT community. Through the various Orientation activities in which you have participated, and through the early stages of rush, you have hopefully begun to sample and savor a small taste of Institute life. But what have you learned about the larger world around MIT? How welcome do you feel in the community of Boston and New England, the region where you will spend the next four years of your life, and very possibly many more beyond that?

Allow me to say: Welcome to Boston. Welcome to New England. Welcome to the finest city in the nation, and welcome to the most distinctive and charming region of the United States.

I must admit to being just slightly biased. I was born and raised in Massachusetts, went to high school in Rhode Island, and have now returned to the Bay State for my college years. But when you begin to learn about and explore this region, you will find I am not so biased at all. New England is a region of wondrous contrasts. It is the nexus of both our nation's history and its future. It is a place of technology yet antiquity, a region which is both urban yet rural, sheltering a people holding steadfast to tradition yet often creating changes in our society.

Bostonian Oliver Wendell Holmes called the Massachusetts State House "the hub of the solar system." Over the years we've corrected his modesty and now refer to Boston as "Hub of the Universe." It is a title with much justification.

You are privileged to be attending one of the world's finest academic institutions. Many other colleges and universities in New England are of the same caliber. We boast four Ivy League schools and a number of small, prestigious liberal arts institutions. The educational opportunities in New England far surpass those of other regions of the nation, something which you are now well-positioned to utilize as a student at MIT.

This city offers some of the nation's finest museums and cultural institutions as well. Our Museum of Fine Arts is world-renowned, and the Museum of Science, New England Aquarium, and Isabella Stuart Garnder Museum have all justly received high accolades as well. Boston's Symphony and Pops Orchestras are already known to you as well.

New England is also the center of the nation's finance and technology. There is an excitement in the air of downtown Boston, as bankers and brokers bustle through their daily business. As an MIT student, you are likely very excited by the scientific and engineering developments at all the computer and biotechnology companies which have sprouted in the region. These companies offer you a wealth of opportunities through internships, research, and employment.

However, at the same time we New Englanders look to our future, we also remember our past. This region is the birthplace of America. Plymouth, although the second permanent English colony in the United States, reflects more truly the American spirit than the gaggle of royalists who landed thirteen years earlier several hundred miles to the south.

Settled for the principle of religious freedom, and reflecting the values of hard work and honesty still cherished by New Englanders today, Plymouth Colony is only the beginning of our storied history. Throughout colonial times we were the impetus for change, reform, and independence. It was in two small towns only about 15 miles from MIT where "the shot heard round the world" was fired. Over the history of the United States the sons and daughters of New England, from Adams to Webster to Coolidge to Kennedy, have served with honor in the government, fighting for values of tolerance, freedom, and understanding.

Outside the urbanized South, with which you are probably more familiar, you will discover a second, more rustic but equally handsome New England. From the hamlets of Western Massachusetts through the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire into the forests of Maine resides the other face of New England. This side is one of nature's pristine beauty, of mountains and forests and waterfalls. It is one of a vibrant landscape, glowing and changing with the seasons. It is one of small towns and warm and friendly people.

I hope you will take advantage of the different tours during Orientation at your disposal and explore the cities of Boston and Cambridge. They are yours for your career at MIT; learn to enjoy and appreciate all they have to offer. In addition, I hope you will take some time during your college career to travel to other parts of the region. I am sure they will charm and delight you as well. No other region of the nation offers these contrasts.

Where else in America can you find both a vibrant, cosmopolitan metropolis and small, quaint, picturesque towns? Where else can you find a region so deep in history and culture yet always on the cutting edge of technology? I don't believe any other place in this country can really compare to New England.

New England will always hold a special place in my heart. This is where I have always lived and where I always hope to live. New England will always be my home. I hope soon you will take pride in saying it is your home as well. Welcome to New England and enjoy your stay. I hope it is both long and prosperous.