The Expectations and Challenges for the Semester.

Changes upon changes upon changes have happened to me this year. In January I had a solid plan for school, work, and moving toward my long-term goals. I am a junior at Lehman College, in both the English Honors Program and the Adult Degree Program. When I graduate I plan to join Teach For America and teach in public schools while I pursue my Master’s degree. Earlier this year, I had planned to leave my job dog-walking before the weather became cold, and obtain a position where I can use my writing and editing skills.  My girlfriend and I also knew we faced a change in finances coming up next July, so we were planning for that contingency. I was looking forward to all the changes, and then March happened, and the quarantine, and everything changed.

Now it is September, and my relationship is gone, my job is gone, my place to live is gone, and there is only school left. In some ways I am stronger than I have ever been, and more focused, and in other ways I am hanging by a thread.

Ironically, or perhaps for 2020, typically, the same things I see as challenges for the semester are the very things I am looking forward to.  I am enrolled in a humanities internship with Lehman’s literary magazine, Obscura.  As part of that internship, I am responsible for writing a weekly blog with a theme of my choice. Because I am a writer and I love the process of writing, I have decided to blog on the writing process itself, and what it is like to live in the mind of writer. I am two blogs in and so far, it is fun, but nerve-wracking until I discover a particular subject to focus on.   On top of that is of course the monthly blog you are reading right now. I am again looking forward to delving into the project and trying to make some changes in the world.  In addition, I am taking an advanced fiction course where the final paper is a 12-15-page story ready to submit to a professional magazine.  That seems to be a lot to have on my plate.  However, I like the structure and I like the deadlines, and I think it is going to be a satisfying feeling at the end of the semester when I have a portfolio of blog entries I can look back on.  As Dorothy Parker, perhaps facetiously, said, “I hate writing, but love having written.”

On a more humorous note, there is my favorite quote by Douglas Adams, who said, “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”  

I am excited about my project theme of introducing more inclusive curriculum into the educational system.  I recently saw a morning news segment with a teacher named Bashir Akinyele, who is teaching more Afrocentric curriculum in his New Jersey classes. I have reached out to him by email to see if I can pick his brain regarding the processes he used and obstacles he may have faced trying to get his curriculum implemented. Also, as Stephanie Sertich, Program Coordinator for the Humanities Department of LaGuardia College, mentioned to me, the present presidential administration is pushing the exact opposite curriculum under the guise of “Patriotic Education,” where teaching about slavery “promotes hatred of the country.”   I truly hope we are nearing the end of this anti-intellectual, racist, xenophobic era in our country, but regardless of the results of the next election, thinking and caring Americans are in for the fight of their lives.  Despite some personal concerns, I have never been more up for it. How about you?

3 thoughts on “The Expectations and Challenges for the Semester.

  1. Kashema Hutchinson (she/her)

    Thomas, I am glad that you found a silver lining throughout your ordeal and you are moving forward. To paraphrase Sam, this really is a daunting and mercurial time and surviving it isn’t easy, but one day and deadline at a time you are moving forward. Give yourself credit. I don’t know if you have already, but have you looked into the resources at Lehman that may assist you in some capacity? I hope that things start looking upward for you.

    As for your academic project, I think the curriculum idea is great despite the current stance of the government. Be mindful that a lot of Black educators don’t like to have their “brains picked” read: free labor that may be stolen.

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