Friday, August 24, 2007

A three hour journey spanning fifty years

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, I visited my father, age 96 in the assisted living community where he resides. I left to return to Washington about 7:30PM. Dinner is served at 6 PM. By 7:30, as a drove away, the community was mostly quiet. When I returned to AU, a little before 10, the “Quad” in front of Anderson Hall and the roadway leading up to it were thronged with students. No classes tomorrow and it was a beautiful evening. At first I thought there might have been a fire alarm evaluation (and I was not on hand to distribute candy), but no, students told me they were just “hanging out.” A number of students were also congregating around taxis that had been called to take them to the bright lights of Georgetown.

On Tuesday, accompanied by my father, I had met briefly with the Director of Residential Care of his community. At the end of an email I wrote her that evening, I felt moved to append the following reflection, based on my experience traveling between two very different worlds.

“...There was no reason for me to take your office time by sharing my own
professional circumstances, but to make a point, I will share that one
responsibility is faculty member in residence in an 1800 student
(mostly first and second year) residence hall complex.  Thus, my
three hour journey this evening spanned, in sense, 50 years -  from a
community of median age 90 to a community of median age 20.  Reflecting on this gave me new respect for your profession and role.  

My role as faculty resident, senior
professor and mentor might, like yours, be termed "resident care."
But my young charges, despite often turbulent lives, are on an upward
trajectory.  The lives of your charges, like my father, are becoming
increasingly circumscribed.  Your mission, I am presuming,  is to
create a context of civility, compassion, dignity and grace in these
difficult circumstances.

This mission, it it seems to me, is by far the more difficult one, and
I deeply respect the commitment that has lead to you undertake it. "

I remain grateful for the opportunity to share the lives of AU students that living in Anderson Hall provides. And I do believe that the task of a faculty resident is much the easier one.


Post a Comment

<< Home