Friday, September 03, 2010

Up on the roof

The dean of the School of Communication and his girlfriend hosted a start-of-the-academic-year get together at their apartment tonight. As the evening progressed, something struck me -- how international our party was.

Among the faculty from the School of Communication there was one woman from Russia and one man from South Africa. My dean's girlfriend is a native of Finland, and one of her colleagues at Robert Morris University -- a woman from Denmark -- also was there.

As we moved the party from the apartment to the rooftop patio, our group moved into various topics of conversation. At one point the Danish woman shared some interesting insights about teaching. She has a 17-year-old son, and she relayed how she's begun to really see her son in the students she teaches each day.

They share many of the same interests and goals. They want the same things. It apparently has been an eye-opening experience to see how her students are so very much like her son, who I believe was born in the U.S. though I never asked.

I was reminded how I feel that same connection to many of my students. It's a good feeling.

It is my opinion that we as faculty are fortunate when a student is comfortable enough with us to see us as a substitute family member, a confidant or someone who can be turned to at any time.

That, of course, also means we get to celebrate their personal and professional milestones -- weddings, births, new jobs and the like.

A responsibility, yes. But one that should be accepted with humility.

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