Yesterday I attended a Masters Professional Project presentation by a sparkling young woman who I’ve been working with for the last couple of years. As she delivered her brilliant, articulate, entertaining project summary on neighbourhood food justice networks, I just felt so honoured to be in that room, to have been part of her journey and very interested to see what she does now. And yes, I got a little weepy.
I’ve mentored my fair share of students. And I’m sure there will be more in my future. I don’t get paid to do it. It takes time that I sometimes feel I don’t have. But, as I was reminded sitting in that classroom yesterday, it has its own rewards.
I have also been on the receiving end and know it is important for me to return the favour. So many profs and colleagues have helped me in my work, written letters of reference, given me trusted advice along the way.
Recently I contacted a former linguistics professor to discuss a project I was working on. I took every one of the courses offered by Dr. Joseph Kess and fell in love with the study of language. I graduated decades ago, but he remembered me and was still willing to help me out. When I was doing research for my book, I took a chance and contacted Herman Daly (Toward a Steady State Economy) at the University of Maryland to source a quote. To my surprise, he emailed me right back. More recently, I contacted Noam Chomsky, linguistics rock star at MIT. It was Dr. Kess that first introduced me to Chomsky. I have watched with fascination and admiration as Chomsky has applied his linguistics background to his activism. Got two emails from Chomsky over the weekend. Couldn’t get over the fact that I was corresponding with the guy who wrote Manufacturing Consent. It meant the world to me that he had taken the time.
I hope I will always find the time to write back when an eager student pops into my inbox.