Within my academic career, I have had the good fortune of having wonderful Professors like my Anthropological Professor who had taught me the values of forgiveness and second chances.
I was a horrible college student, and as a result I got many academic disciplinary notices. Starting out my college career in Anthropology, I realized– along with getting those disciplinary notices– that that major wasn’t cut out for me. I ended up switching majors to History, but one of the last Anthropological classes that I had taken was a Theory class that was taught by this professor. This class was set up as a seminar with everyone facing each other for classroom discussions and presentations, and we weren’t encouraged to raise our hands before speaking—in fact re-enacting “the wave” was preferred if we would raise our hands! Professor had led this class in a very supportive way to us students as our reading assignments would be very hard to get through, as many Anthropological and Sociological texts of the early 19th to 20th centuries were very densely written. Even before our first day of class, our professor emailed us in warning us of the difficulty we would be facing for the semester, but instead encouraged us as a coach that we would be “building brain muscle”!
In general I’ve seen that men are the caring, compassionate, and intuitive half of our human existence- and are there in supporting us women who can have melt downs and stress over everything! This Anthropological Theory class that I was taking was a determining factor in my academic record, and so I couldn’t really run away from this class without also digging myself into a deep hole. As Professor was a coach to my other peers in the class, he was also my coach as he kept me grounded and focused in completing his class—as well as another male professor of another class keeping me on track for another course!
A part of the grade for Theory Class was to be paired with another classmate in giving oral presentations on the theorists that were studied. Since I was already so disillusioned with the class, my first presentation had not gone well with the result of me also bringing my peer down. Professor though graciously gave me the chance of presenting again, where the second time around was better, and where I started to feel more confident about the class.
Our final assignment for the course was to analyze an ethnographic account, so from taking my time in picking and choosing a book, I finally settled on a female anthropologist’s participation in a religious pilgrimage. It also turned out that Professor had also partaken of this journey and could attest to some of the details in the book, and that I had a souvenir from long ago that was from the pilgrimage! The physical and mental stamina and some of the more tricky ground to walk on in this route was also met with the kindness of strangers at resting areas along the road, and that there was a sense of community among strangers in attaining a common goal. “The Journey” that pilgrims had taken to receive benediction in the end was like my own journey through the class.
I vowed that at the end of the class I would have a bonfire with all the reading materials, and while there was no bonfire with all that dense reading—it actually is instead a prized keepsake that is gathering dust in my bookshelf! Under Coach Professor, we as a class really had strengthened a muscle and could lift many pounds at the end, and under his guidance to me—I learned to not run away from hardship and be more forgiving!
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