April 25, 2014

Countdowns, kindness, and quotes

Today it's really sinking in that in a little over a month, I'll be getting married. In a little over two months, I'll be flying over the ocean en route to Turkey.

I'm not sure what to make of those two things and their quick succession.

I'll be leaving a part of the country that I love, a job that allows me freedom to experiment, and the cradle of graduate school. Though I haven't been a student for nearly a year, I'm still tightly connected to the community of graduate students in the English department here. My fiance is one; so is my roommate; so are most of my friends.

I'll admit, there are plenty of days when I feel boxed in. I haven't gotten to know the faculty with offices around me, and I sometimes feel lonely. I'm not a graduate student, but I'm not a "real" faculty either.

A professor, admittedly one I wasn't that close to during my grad studies, said hello today at Starbucks. His genuine interest in my plans (including a little shock that I was engaged to someone in the department) was really meaningful today.

In the university, and especially at the graduate level, faculty become pseudo parents. Students seek approval and acceptance from them. They teach us how to become part of their field. They challenge and discipline us. They reward us and introduce us to people we need to know. Faculty are very important people in our lives, and it made my day today that a faculty member cared enough about me, a former student, to ask about my life outside school, and show sincere interest in me.

I'm writing about this little blip of my morning with the hope that I never forget the power of being genuinely interested in my students. Even a short conversation can make all the difference.

The philosophical bus driver who occasionally drives me home once mused over the intercom: "The true test of a man's character is in how he treats someone who can do absolutely nothing for him." This quote speaks to me as a teacher, not in that students can't do anything for me, as they are often teach me so much in return; but in that treating people with warmth and kindness, with no expectations in return is a noble thing!

As a writing teacher, I don't approve of the organization that I've set up in this entry. It's just my thoughts on a grateful Thursday afternoon.