Dr. Hill and students

Reader’s Digest publishes Dunlap's sharing of Teszler’s ‘passionate life’

Dr. Benjamin B. Dunlap at TED Conference.

February issue on newsstands Jan. 20; available on Web

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Wofford President Benjamin B. Dunlap’s “The Story of a Passionate Life,” about the life of the late Sandor Teszler, has been shared thousands of times across the Internet since he first made the 18-minute presentation at the prestigious TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Monterey, Calif., in spring 2007.

Now, many thousands more will be sharing in the remarkable telling of the remarkable story through the publication of an excerpt from the talk published in the February 2009 edition of Reader’s Digest, to be available in bookstores Jan. 20. Dunlap’s telling of the story already is on the worldwide publication’s Web site at www.rd.com (http://www.rd.com/your-america-inspiring-people-and-stories/ben-dunlaps-lecture-of-a-lifetime/article114714.html).

Dunlap (who is known to the world outside of Wofford as “Ben”) was among 50 “remarkable people” invited to TED that year to “share whatever it is they are passionate about.”

Among the presenters were former President Bill Clinton, former NBA star and author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Nobel Laureate Murray Gell-Mann, and Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group.

Here is an excerpt from Dunlap’s TED Talk:


“There's not a drop of Hungarian blood in my veins, but at every critical juncture in my life, there has been a Hungarian friend or mentor beside me. I even have dreams that seem to take place in Hungarian landscapes.

“How do I explain this mysterious affinity? Maybe it's because my native state of South Carolina, which is not much smaller than present-day Hungary, once imagined a future for itself as an independent country. And as a consequence of that presumption, my hometown was burned to the ground by an invading army-an experience that has befallen many a Hungarian town and village throughout the country's long and troubled history. Though this presence in my life is difficult to account for, ultimately I ascribe it to an admiration for people with a complex moral awareness, their heritage of guilt and defeat matched by defiance and bravado.

“Case in point: On the first day that I began teaching an interdisciplinary course in literature and culture at Wofford College in South Carolina, I was reassured to find, among the auditors in my classroom, a 90-year-old Hungarian. This man was surrounded by a bevy of middle-aged European women who seemed to function as an entourage of Rhine maidens. His name was Sandor Teszler, and he was a puckish widower whose wife and children were dead and whose grandchildren lived far away. In appearance he resembled Mahatma Gandhi—minus the loincloth, plus orthopedic boots.”

View “The Story of a Passionate Life.”