From Freshmen to Seniors

I will be coordinating the research projects of our graduating Seniors next year (for the first time ever! Yes, yes, yes!) and the students have started writing in already because they want to start working on their projects as soon as possible.

It always fascinates me to observe how our students change in the four (or five, or sometimes six) years they spend getting a university education. They come in as listless, indifferent, ignorant Freshmen who have no knowledge about the world and no interest in learning about it. Politics bores them, literature terrifies them, traveling does not excite them.

By the time they are ready to leave, our students become curious, engaged, intelligent people who have traveled, who have learned to speak a foreign language, who have opinions, who care about politics, and who maybe even like to read. This is especially obvious during the Senior Assignment presentations. You look at a student and think, “Gosh, I remember her when she couldn’t say a word of Spanish and just sat there looking all petulant in class. And now she is sharing the results of her analysis of a novel (a film, a work of philosophy, a social issue, etc.)  in beautifully fluent Spanish!”

What we do for our students is hugely important. We give them the tools they need to start caring about the world and engaging with it. It feels like we put a battery in them. Where there used to be indifference and listlessness, we create excitement and enthusiasm. This is an extremely rewarding job, people.

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