Thursday, January 05, 2006

Telephone someone who has made a difference in your life

Earlier today, I called a former mentor who is one of the leading scholars in two of my fields, computer modeling and international relations. I first read his work when I was a graduate student. Later we collaborated in global modeling activities, each supporting the other in events that one or the other of us organized. His letters of recommendation helped me to win tenure and promotion to full professor, more than twenty years ago. At one memorable modeling conference, with limited accommodations, in New Hampshire, we were roommates for nearly a week – a never-to-be-forgotten experience for me. Perhaps more of the really creative, cutting-edge scholars in international relations (I am not claiming membership in this group) count him as mentor than any other individual

Now he is 90 years old. I had not spoken to him for more that a year and called to check his address so I could send a copy of my latest book. When I asked what he was working on – he always has had a project – the reply was “well…mostly on staying alive.” Not only is he retired but most of his colleagues are retired. His mobility is limited, making travel difficult. As with my father, virtually all the men and women with whom he shared the early years of his life are dead.

If there is a teacher or other mentor, particularly an older one, who has made a difference in your life, give them a call from time to time and tell them how much their contributions have meant to you.


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