Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New York City - family and the value of an SMC education.

Last week I traveled to visit with my family and my sister and I took a train from CT into New York City where we met up with my niece Maggie (far left) and her friend (and my former student) Anne Maher (third from the left) - I blogged about Anne and her Dad's death in my last posting. Anne had never been to New York City so this was her first attempt at "life outside of the Boston area." While Sue and I were waiting for Maggie and Anne to come downstairs to meet us for dinner this nice looking, well-dressed young man came over to where we were sitting and sat down opposite me. It took me a couple of seconds (he said the look on my face was priceless and he wished that he had a camera) to realize that it was Dan Ehrhardt from Anne's class of 2009. Dan has just recently moved to New York from Boston and he, my sister, Maggie and Anne decided to surprise "Uncle Dave" with Dan's joining us for dinner. Dan has done well since his graduation in that he received a promotion at work in Boston and then they asked him to move to New York City - he works for a financial service company and had three internships during his time at SMC. While Maggie and Anne took one cab, Sue, Dan and I took another one and we had a chance to catch up. He spoke of how much he loves his job and how much he credits SMC for having prepared him for this type of work. He said that his three internships AND Prof. Roger Putzel's business class of XP (a unconventional class where students set up a "dummy" corporation and the students actually RUN the company) provided him with the experiential learning which put the textbooks' concepts/policies/skill-building into practice. Dan has one of those "infectious" personalities and he has certainly put both that personality and his education at SMC to good work. He also admitted that he LOVED the Men & Masculinities class he took with me and that he tells his co-workers that he learned so much from A class and they ask if it was an economics class or perhaps a business ethics class or an accounting class and then he tells them that NO, it was a psychology/gender studies class and he said that their reactions are really funny. After dinner we walked around a bit and it was just nice to catch up with Dan and his family - I had his older brother Rich as a student here several years ago - it was certainly a pleasant surprise and I appreciated his feedback as to how much HE values the education he received here at SMC. Anne and Maggie met at SMC and their friendship continues even though they haven't been living near each other for years.

It was also quite interesting because Sue, Maggie, Anne and I went to a Broadway play on Wednesday afternoon - we saw South Pacific which has always been one of my favorite plays. It was first produced in 1949 and deals, as many of you may remember, with the military during World War II in the Polynesian Islands. It was quite eye-opening for Sue and me to be watching the play with two 22 year olds who have no "frame of reference" for this play. The themes of discrimination, class and culture are so strong and fortunately both Maggie and Anne have a solid understanding of issues of peace and justice from their education here that our discussion afterwards was quite amazing. I have often used the music from South Pacific in workshops, especially YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT which makes the point that no one is "born" with prejudices but that you "have to be carefully taught" to hate those who are different.

All in all, a wonderful time in the CITY. I do have to admit that it was equally nice to travel back home to Vermont where life is so different from a large city. I am in the office this morning doing more preparation for my classes which will begin on the 30th. My Practicum students are interviewing for their placements off campus for the year and site supervisors are getting in touch with me with last minute questions about these placements. I also continue to get emails from students asking about their textbooks for the classes and a student just "discovered" that there was ONE opening in my Theories of Counseling class and so as she put it "I jumped at the opening and signed up - yeah...." - these are exciting times as I LOVE the opening of each new school year. A couple of students from last semester are in town this week and have emailed about getting together so I expect a knock at my office door at any minute. It is gratifying to know that so many of our students RETURN just to say hello - just one more reason why I love this place so much.

Take care, be well and please keep all of the members of our military and their families in your thoughts and prayers as we leave Iraq and the war in Afghanistan continues to take its toll on our men and women in the military and their loved ones.


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