Yesterday one of the students in my freshman seminar stopped in for a visit. It was great to see her. At one point during our conversation she asked me what seemed to be a simple question, but a day later I realize it was bundled with great expectation. She asked me why I work at W&M and why I teach. I offered her a tepid answer at best. So here are two parts of the complete answer:
I love what I do. When I witness moments of emotional inspiration connect with intellectual curiosity I see learning and it foreshadows social change. In supporting students’ personal development through service, and providing students the chance to explore their new found intellectual interests, this place becomes a portal through which social consciousness meets an ideal intellectual arena. The result is justice oriented global citizens equipped to change the world.
At the end of the day, after learning goals are met, grades are submitted and the lights in the community have dimmed, the stories that resonate are those that involve a deep and real connection with other people. We cannot eliminate humanism from the academy. We must ask ourselves, what keeps us going? Why do we fight? The answer most often rests in the connections with have with our friends in communities that desperately need a break. What is the difference between social and financial prosperity and poverty? What makes me any different from others? Is it circumstance? Is it luck? When we connect with others in a real and familial way it becomes much easier to answer the question of what similarities we have. We love our kids, we want safety and health. We want to learn. We want peace.