Week 5: What? Where am I?

Last week, I worked about 75 hours. It’s not so bad. I do enjoy the creativity involved in pedagogy. I like reading, writing, and thinking. I’m especially enjoying my Social Status and Inequality course at campus #4 because of the theoretical knowledge I am having to apply, deconstruct, discuss with my students. I’m just not sure if I can keep up this workload for another 11 weeks. (The aforementioned Inequality course ends in Week 8, but the coordinator just informed me that she wants to give me another course, which starts in mid-March).

I would like the opportunity for more sleep, exercise, relaxation. Because I’m an introvert, I never thought I’d want more time to be social, but I’m severely deprived of that. I can count the number of outings I’ve gone to since the semester started:

-lunch with mom and sister (two weeks ago)
-dinner with HS friends (last week)
-literary publishers’ panel at campus #1 (last night)
-faculty dinner/reception at campus #4 (last night)

I’ve had to cancel on friends and decline invites. I haven’t seen my baby nephew in two weeks. My main mode of interaction is in classrooms and hallways, which are sometimes engaging but does not involve wine or music or much laughter.

Last week, though, one fulfilling thing I did was conduct a research writing workshop for 50 undergraduate students in the same multicultural relations program I was a part of 10 years ago. My former adviser, Dr. J., contacted me in a panic, that she was “in over [her] head” about how to prepare for this workshop. It made me so happy to lend a hand because this program was the reason I didn’t drop out of college. (Lack of interest, mainly. I wanted to go to culinary school.)

The workshop went well:

“The presenter was very knowledgeable about the subject and really liked extending that same knowledge to us students.”

“Ms. Ayes did a wonderful job of simplifying an overwhelming process of writing a research paper. Thank you!”

It warms my heart and puts a couple of things in perspective: 1.) teaching is most fulfilling when my service is meeting a need rather than a requirement. (Most of my Honors students believe Freshman Comp is a waste of their time.) 2.) I breathe multiculturalism, and it makes me appreciate my background (mixed peoples of my homeland, immigration, racially segregated districts in this city, predominately black school during 6-12, predominately white university) even more. I can see beauty in my daily interactions…all the juxtapositions.

During my Inequality class, a student (older, white, woman) comes up during break after we’d discussed race and ethnicity, and relays a commentary she heard after Congresswoman Gifford was shot, about how truly multicultural we are: A Jewish woman. A male Catholic priest (?). A Mexican-American intern. An Asian-American doctor. A black/biracial President.

I love connections.

My mom recently commented on how ironic it was that I’m teaching English at the college level because it’s not even my first language. She shared a story about my late grandmother who was a merchant and often traveled to Manila to make purchases in the 1930s and 1940s. She was a fiercely independent, head-strong woman, but when she encountered Americans, she felt limited. She could neither understand them nor negotiate prices. She vowed to make her children learn English. My mom said, “She would be proud of you.”

I have so many stories to write.