So I realize I’ve been discussing a lot of what is wrong or what can be better about my profession or myself or my school and not as much about what is good and right. This post is about what is good and right.
On Sunday, I took the members of Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, to Asheville for new member induction. We usually have a more formal induction on campus with members of the faculty present, but at a recent Coffee and Conversation (biweekly informal chit chat time between English profs and students), we hatched the idea of taking induction on the road to the coolest town in the South. Seven students, Wheeler, and I drove the 90 minutes to Asheville (yes, we are really lucky to live that close) in the pouring rain (our plan to wear cute spring things abandoned) on Sunday and we had a wonderful time.
Lunch at Doc Chey’s, a fabulous Thai place, where we had giant bowls of noodles and real, house-made ginger ale. Induction at Malaprop’s, a wonderful independent bookstore — we recited our vow/pledge in front of a shelf of travel books. Smelling and buying at Asheville Tea and Spice Exchange — we reveled in the smells of tea and salt and sugar and spices. Chocolate and conversation at French Broad Chocolate Lounge — we drank liquid truffles and ate creme brulee and talked and talked.
The whole time these juniors and seniors, the beloved birds of the English department nest, demonstrated, naturally and effortlessly, all the things that we list as objectives and goals for our students. They discussed the Boston Bombings and how terrorism is defined, taking into account race, ethnicity, and religion. They were so happy to be in a town where everything they ate/bought was local, fair trade, and/or organic and they could articulate why fair trade is important to them. They made jokes and told funny stories and talked about wanting wombats and sloths for pets. They are interesting, quirky, thoughtful, knowledgeable critical thinkers. They are funny and charming and curious about the world. They are, to paraphrase William Joyce, all that we have, all that we are, and all that we will ever be. And in a week, we will tell some of them goodbye. We’ll watch them leave our nest, and we’ll cry and we’ll miss them.
But we’ll also know they can fly.