Celebrate!

“As teachers, we must find the commonalities that can help us reach students, but the differences to help  us celebrate them.”

Okay, so you are probably wondering at this point who wrote that quote and what does being a teacher have to do with me? Well, I will hesitantly admit that I wrote that sentence last week as part of a journal for my Growth and Development class. When reflecting on theories of development and the extent to which children differ in these areas, I began to ponder how this could affect me as a teacher and how I would use it to enhance learning. However, after further consideration, I found that this principle is not only applicable in the life of an educator, but the life of a human being.

Tradition has it that most of us migrate and surround ourselves with people who are similar. They may have similar looks, interests, backgrounds, habits, etc., but nevertheless, we find commonalities within ourselves and our friends. These are the topics of conversation and themes of events and outings we will have with them because it is a comfortable environment. I mean come on, being with friends should be easy and fun, right? However, by only finding similarities between ourselves and another person, are we truly developing relationships, or merely extending our phone’s contact list?

In order to understand a person and relate to him on a personal level, I feel that we must find more than common interests that join us together. Rather, we should use these interests (such as reading or music) to adventure into what makes us different. If differences are never discussed and celebrated, won’t parts of our culture eventually cease to exist? By only gathering in situations that we are familiar with, we are cheating ourselves and our neighbors of valuable learning experiences. Therefore, this week I challenge YOU to venture to a new circle of friends and discover something about your community or to gather with your closest peers and tell them something about yourself that you never have. Don’t be ashamed of what makes you different, be proud of what makes you an individual!

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Starting the Semester Right

Whew!  And spring semester is off to a running start, as always. . .

One of the most difficult things about this time is figuring out that new schedule, which is a much more challenging task than it seems like at first.  Especially as a college student, life is so much more than classes, and it’s often such a challenge to fit everything in that you want to do.  Where do you draw the line between academics and diversion?  Or extracurricular commitments and free time?  Or time with friends and time with God?  Or even basic living necessities like fitting in time to do laundry (says the girl who just ran away to check the load in the dryer)?

It’s certainly a lot to balance, let me tell you.

Something that I have definitely learned over the first two years of my time here is the value of being able to say NO – such a basic skill that all of us overachievers have a hard time with sometimes.  For such a small college, Erskine sure has a lot going on!  For example, this weekend, just the first of the new semester, there were already so many things going on that I had to forgo the big Super Bowl parties to finish my homework this evening.  However, I got to see a musical at a local college on Friday night, went dancing Saturday night, attended a new church this morning, and even squeezed in an hour of ballroom dancing club this afternoon!  I think that makes a pretty good weekend, and my small sacrifice of not watching the big game was worth it.

In addition to just balance of school-type activities, one thing I am determined to do this semester is to make sure that I leave time for the important people in my life.  As I think I mentioned earlier, one thing that really left an impression on me in Spain was how much importance they place on family and friends there, and now that I’m back I intend to maintain and grow my relationships, as well as form some new ones.

And of course, there is the most important person in my life – my Lord.  Bringing back a stronger relationship with Him is something that I must make my priority, because I know that He has to be the center of everything I do.  This is something that I, like most college students, really struggle with; it’s so easy to get caught up in everything going on that you just kind of push Him down the list.  I realize that the more I do this, though, the more difficult everything else in life becomes (go figure, right?), so instead of putting things like church and a little prayer on my list of time commitments, I am going to try this thing where I keep Him with me as I do everything.  It’s just a crazy idea that I had, that I have heard many times, and I somehow think it just might work.  Let’s hope that I can keep this going!

So bring it on, spring semester – bring it on, because I’m bringing my God with me this time.

Adventures in the Big City

In my last post, did I mention that a trip to New York was in my near future? As it turns out, I did indeed embark on an adventure in the big city, over two weeks ago now, and it was absolutely fabulous. What was fabulous about it, you may ask? Well, everything! But since you’ve sat down to read a blog post rather than a tome, I’ll share just one of the lessons I learned this January.

For seven fun-filled days, I stayed in the Wellington Hotel (only a few blocks from Times Square) with seventeen other lovely ladies from Erskine. Our first night in New York, three girlfriends and I set out—absolutely ravenous after a busy day of travel which hadn’t allowed for meals—in search of food. The only problem with this plan was that I am both indecisive and directionally challenged…not a good combination when one is inexperienced at navigating the city. Another complication which added to the adventure of the evening was the extremely frigid weather, which almost knocked us sun-loving South Carolinians off our feet for the first few days. (Yes, we are wimps…but I’m not ashamed to say that, as amazing NY was, I like warmth!)

As it so happened, after haphazardly walking into several different likely-looking establishments in search of food, we stumbled into a diner which was delightfully and authentically “New York.” We were quickly persuaded to stay by the friendly Italian owner, an extremely gregarious native New Yorker who was kind enough to move us away from the table by the door (where we blithely sat down, only to realize

Erskine gals in Times Square

Erskine gals in Times Square

moments later what unbearably icy blasts this would subject us to) and to tell us which direction Times Square was in (hehe…yes, we had maps, but we figured extra guidance couldn’t hurt). We hereby unabashedly identified ourselves as tourists. Oh yes, and we may or may not have
taken pictures of our food. But at any rate, we certainly soaked up the experience!

All this to say, that first night in New York, Laura Beth (my dear friend and traveling companion) and I realized something—if we were to enjoy our experience in New York, we were going to have to gain something: confidence. Perhaps this sound silly, but you see, Laura Beth and I both tend to be followers (at the very least when it comes to navigating a city, lol), and we had just come from Due West…where seeing three cars on Main Street at once is an event. As a result, the sudden transition to a completely different environment was slightly overwhelming. We quickly resolved, however, that this trip was an excellent sink-or-swim opportunity to learn how to navigate New York City on our own. And we did. We may have asked a few questions—such as, “Which way is Seventh Avenue?”—along the way, but by the end of the week, Laura Beth and I knew how to successfully navigate both the subway and the streets of New York. As a result, in addition to learning more about cult
ure and history in New York, we grew in both confidence and life experience. J-term is always full of surprises.

Gotta get back in the swing of things

A start of a new semester already…WOW!!! It feels like I had just started freshman year and yet I’m already halfway done with sophomore year! And now I have to buckle down and get used to a full semester of classes coming off J-term. Today was day 2 of classes so I kinda have a feeling of what classes are going to be like and hopefully everything will go smooth! And the best thing to do when you have a tough semester is just go into the class with a positive attitude, which I admit, is sometimes…a lot of the time, a hard thing to do. But if all else fails, just keep a big smile on your face. I just still cant believe that in 2 and a half years i’ll be graduating!! It’s crazy!! I just have to make the most of the opportunities God has placed in front of me and use them for His glory!