Our students are heading home tomorrow (Tuesday) although some have already left :) but at this time of year as they are all stressed with papers, exams AND the end of the semester looming right ahead (seniors are already lamenting that this is their LAST Thanksgiving vacation from SMC) I have tried to remind them to take care of themselves, to enjoy home, family AND to get some much needed sleep. I can't remember if my sleep patterns were the same as theirs when I was in college but I am amazed at what they can accomplish on so little sleep.I also remind them that we all have so much to be thankful for, even if that is simply because we have new friends, have learned new information about ourselves and our world or because we have more than many others do. Classes have been wonderful with both Theories and Practicum students continuing to learn more and more about themselves and the counseling profession every day. The experiences they have either on their Practicum sites or in the Developmental Lab assure me that they ARE going to be good clinicians and that they will be more culturally sensitive, more compassionate and more experienced than I ever learned from my undergraduate education. The Developmental Lab continues to be a great learning tool. Sports Psychology class amazes students as they have never considered some of the issues we discuss in this "applied" psychology class. They are gaining a greater insight into the working of the mind as we look at the behaviors of not only high school and college athletes, but the professionals as well. They are also learning a great deal about parents and the impact that parents can/do have on young people who participate in athletics - I am grateful that so many of my former students from this class have stayed in touch with me and they send me information that they think the class can benefit from on a regular basis - I love those long-standing connections.
Yesterday afternoon my friend/colleague Kuntz and I drove to Lincoln, VT to visit OUR colleagues/friends Ari and Molly - their second son was born a couple of weeks ago and we wanted a chance to visit with them and their three year old son Noah. I have posted pictures on Facebook and have already received many comments from friends on the pictures. Ari and Molly are both in the Psychology Department and while she was at home awaiting Quinn's arrival and avoiding getting the H1N1 from our students I had the pleasure of taking over Molly's Practicum class and thoroughly enjoyed not only helping out, but also getting the perspective of 18 students on their Practicum experience. Several of Molly's students are either in my Theories course or have been in other courses I teach so it was good to see them again in a different academic setting. Practical experience is such an excellent learning tool for our students as it cements some goals and alters others - not a bad thing.
I have been working with the College and with Senator Leahy's office in securing veteran's benefits for one of our graduate students who served four years in the military and then was stop-lossed for an addtional year and a half - those of you who have been followers of my blog know I am talking about Alan. I am amazed, infuriated, saddened and confused that we have asked so much from our young men/women who serve this country but the bureaucracy gets so bogged down that it takes months and months, too many telephone calls and faxes, senatorial intervention and he still doesn't have his benefits - this just simply isn't right!!! There has to be a better way to make sure that these veterans who are returning to college or who choose to enter college for the first time are NOT forced to pay everything "out of pocket' at they wait for their benefits to kick in. They have enough to deal with on a daily basis to have to also be worried about when they will be reimbursed............ Many thanks to SMC President Jack Neuhauser, Marilyn Cormier, our Registrar's Office and Katherine Long from Senator Leahy's Office for their assistance in this matter - even after the VA is FINALLY notified (with the "correct" paperwork that Alan IS a full-time student here it will take 8 to 12 weeks for him to receive reimbursement from OUR government - as I said, it simply isn't right!!!!! The latest is when the VA informed him that they didn't have records of his being stop-lossed ???????? I told Alan that perhaps he had really just been vacationing somewhere on a Caribbean Island those 18 months and that he really wasn't back in Afghanistan during that time - fortunately he knows that we ARE working with him to resolve these things AND he hasn't lost his sense of humor although he sure has reason to.
Take care, have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families and please keep all of the members of our military - current and veteran alike, in your thoughts and prayers as WE get to celebrate so much.