Survival of the fittest

As many of you know, I work at a local technical college. If you know anything about academia, you’ll know that community colleges, especially Technical colleges, are kind of…well…laughed at by those who go to more reputable schools. OK, now that we are on the same page, I want to tell you about my job a little.

First, if you go back to my last few posts, you’ll see that I complain a lot. I’m a whiner. What can I say? You’ll see that I whine about not getting the internet, about my neighbors, about about a girlfriend breaking up with me.

Well, in the last two weeks, here are some things I’ve encountered from students who got my “expert advice”:

One student asked if, instead of writing about a person who influenced her, she could write about an event that influenced her. She asked this because war came to her village in her home country and taught her that everything you own can be taken away in an instant.

Another student told of how his adoptive father physically abused him and molested (and, in some cases, raped) his entire family.

That same day, yet another student told of how his daughter was born brain-dead, and how, when he and his wife made the decision to take her off life support, he watched her die. For 45 minutes.

I hear stories like this every day. I usually don’t talk about them, and in fact, I could lose my job talking about them here. But I had to say something.

These students come to me for knowledge…to learn from me. Seriously, though, they could teach me so much more than I could ever teach them. I mean, how can you go through what these students have gone through, then sit in a classroom to learn about commas? How does one do that? How does one even get up after going through that?

I have no idea. I doubt that I could.

Like I said…a lot of people in more reputable schools look down on these students. However, you want to talk about survival of the fittest? I meet them every day.

4 Responses to “Survival of the fittest”

  1. Really makes you think!

  2. Holy shit. Jeez, I forgot about all the–for lack of a more sensitive term–sob stories that you get exposed to as a writing center tutor! The biggest thing my students at Carnegie Mellon have to complain about is that the car their dad bought for them wasn’t quite the right color. Then again, maybe I’m being unfair. Anyway your post reminds me of why I would be totally willing and interested in getting a job at a community college after I graduate: you feel like you’re actually making a difference in the lives of people who NEED a difference made in their lives. Sometimes here I feel like I’m just helping students on their way to some corporate job–and that’s not so satisfying.

  3. I had T read this story and she had tears in her eyes. Good job Jason.

  4. That’s exactly how I feel most days. Most of the time, I feel like I can offer no help to them at all. After reading the things most of them have been through, how can I tell them that their conclusion doesn’t make sense, or that they have poor sentence structure? After what they have been through, why do they need sentence structure? I’m happy they have the strength to get up every day and come to class and share their story.

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