Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Saturday, December 3, 2011

End of the Semester: You've got a friend in me.

Yesterday marked the end of the fall semester.  Nothing left but finals next week, finishing up the administrative tasks, and then a couple of weeks of break until the January class in Mound Bayou.  I'll be traveling to Mound Bayou Wednesday for a meeting about the grant that was recently awarded to restore the Taborian Hospital and develop the Taborian Urgent Care Clinic.  Although there have been some highlights along the way, like the Taborian news, it has also been a semester of looking for direction, and everywhere we needed to go seemed a long way off.
There have been a lot of days where we felt like we were just hanging on.  The overloads, the efforts on the research and grants, the travel, the never-ending preparations for class, new standards soon to be implemented.  Every once in a while someone mentions what an "easy" job I have.  I usually just smile and say I am fortunate to do something I love.  They see the break at the end of the semester, or spring break, but they don't see the hours at night grading papers or preparing for class, the weekends I spend on class prep or writing for research or some other administrative requirement for which there is no time during the day.  Still, I am not complaining: I am fortunate, and I know it.  While there have certainly been bumps in the road (and I've been on it a while, so that's a lot of bumps), it's been a great journey.  As Louis L'amour put it:
The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail.  Travel too fast, and you miss all you are traveling for. (Ride the Dark Trail, 1984).
I spent well over 8 hours this week (I know, that is a lot of time for someone who does not have much of it this time of year) putting together a movie that lasted 8 minutes.  It was for my last class of the semester, the class on social work practice with groups.  This class has been one of the challenging ones, and I have struggled, and they have struggled.  This week, though, as each group did their presentation on the group project (they present on how their group developed the intervention presented in the community), I see that they have learned much more than perhaps the rest of the semester has shown and I shared that with them.

There were a lot of "bumps in the road" in our work with Riverside this semester, and we were really unable to do what we usually do.  We did manage 3 interventions, and each of them was well-received as always by the community members, but we did not get to do our final interventions nor terminate with the community for this semester.  It was disappointing to the students, and I imagine, to the community.  I have had thoughts that due to all the changes from when we first started, perhaps this semester has signaled that it is time to terminate not just for the semester, but perhaps, for the project itself.
 I'm not certain of all of my emotions or thoughts behind the decision to make the slideshow, but I selected from the hundreds of photographs I have of our work there for 5 years--those that I thought illustrated the essence of our work: the variety of activities, the many community members, both parents and children, the Ole Miss students, the Ole Miss and community volunteers who have joined us from time to time--and set them to the music of "You've got a friend in me."  Eight minutes to show 5 years.
 The classroom was dark; there was no texting or talking going on for a change.  When it was over, I stood up, and my emotion was evident.  I said I thought I might be about to cry.  A student with tears in her eyes, said go ahead, so were they.  I looked around the room, and there were several students who were visibly emotional.  In a voice that was shaking, I said,
I do not have a prepared speech.  But you all have no idea what you have done in this community in the last 5 years.
 One asked, "So, are you going to continue the project?  Are you going to go back?"


Gigi said...

I know you and your students have made a huge difference and have learned so much along the way. I've enjoyed following the project over the last several years and love what you have done.

Suzassippi said...

Thanks, Gigi. You should see the movie!

frank_ezelle said...

Very nice--and yes, I can believe it took 8 hours to come up with an 8 minute movie.

Suzassippi said...

I know you do, Frank! I bet it takes you longer than that.