Today marks the end of classes at my University. I gave my final lectures of Fall semester yesterday, but all week a feeling of transiency has been settling over campus, if such a feeling can settle on anything. Finals are next week, and walking across campus today gave me a diverse set of scenes to take in.
- Students huddled together, discussing plans for break with excited smiles that brightened up the dark North Face jackets, black leggings, and shiny straight hair most of them shared.
- A Mennonite choir singing Christmas carols. The women distinguishable by their long flowing skirts and white prayer veils; the men entirely indistinguishable from other undergraduates.
- Starbucks coffee cups, cheery in their holiday garb, piled high in overflowing garbage cans. Many of them boasting green straws for the hot beverages as a preventative against stained teeth. Most of these were also scrawled over with NF’s–that’s Non-fat for the home-brewer.
- A lone young woman, smoking outside a building, talking on her phone. Something about pants, and beer, and frackets (frat jackets, those lose-able jackets women wear to frat parties).
I was, to put it bluntly, feeling a bit discouraged. Then, walking home I came across the message above scrawled on the pavement. And it made me do something I wasn’t expecting.
It made me smile.
Not at what the message was addressing, which is a serious issue to say the least, but at the existence of the message itself. After a semester where so many of my encounters with the next generation have focused on the minutiae of education (points, grades, ‘will this be on the exam’), it was affirming to come across a reminder that many students use their time at University to activate their passions and engage the world head-on about the issues they care about.
It told me, once again, how special my students are, whether they realize it or not.