Columbus and The Columbus School


A couple of months after graduation – late 2012 – I began wondering about the school’s name, about the meaning it could embrace. Who was Cristopher Columbus? And what did that had to do with who I – as a Columbus School alumnus – was?

On October 12th, 1492, Christopher Columbus – commanding a group of three ships and eighty men – arrived at an island they named San Salvador (today part of Bahamas); what they thought to be India would eventually broaden Europe’s scope to America: The New World.

But it’s relevant to highlight that Columbus was a madman who believed the earth was round – not flat as the majority thought in the XV century. He defended the idea that it was possible to sail west to seek Asia against the common sense that argued that if you sailed to the west long enough, you’d fall off the earth. 

Nevertheless, his ideas weren’t simply brought out of the bloom: heliocentric theories arrived a couple of centuries B.C., and Eratosthenes had actually attempted to measure the earth’s circumference with an impressive accuracy (only a 15% error). The value of his achievements is that of collecting the premises others had developed and, against the status quo, build a proposition to convince the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabelle of Castille, of pursuing the voyage.

The side of Christopher Columbus I’d like to emphasize today is that of a madman who dares to defend his well-grounded convictions against what the majority may think because it is what he believes better. There is where I find a meaning for our school’s name.

We, as Columbus School students or alumni, are encouraged to be madmen and madwomen. We ought to have the character of challenging the status quo no matter how crazy our ideas may seem. However, we have the higher responsibility to make sure that our initiatives are well supported and seek a state of welfare for others. 

It is fine to have a different view on an issue – we are encouraged to do so – proposing a contrasting perspective demands character, the character I believe we have. But proposing contrasting perspectives also demands well-grounded arguments; building on top of our predecessors’ work and supporting our idea is the responsibility we must fulfill. Hence, the motivation that must drive us is one of a purpose of welfare. Only by having one can we be humble enough to depart on a voyage in which we may be able to acknowledge our mistakes or – like Columbus did – seize something bigger than what we were looking for.