This summer, a group of graduate students and I met about every week to discuss 1-2 articles from recent conference proceedings. It has been an amazing experience that taught me 3 main things:
- This is what learning is supposed to be like
We met because we wanted to, not because we had to (which is actually true of graduate school). We talked about all sorts of other things, we drank tea, ate, giggled. The meetings were, I think, free of stress, pressure, and grade anxiety. Yet, we learned a lot. This makes me think of how universities first started – a group of people gathered around an older, “wiser” person, walking around and discussing. Because they wanted to. A model where students sought the teacher and instruction was personal.
- Creating a family away from home is a very good idea
Many of the students in the group, as well as I, are internationals. We are far away from our families. Let’s face it, we get lonely. I know I do. It is possible, and even a very good idea, to create a makeshift family by gathering nice people you care about around a table (food or tea help!). We held a couple of meetings at my house. We ate. We laughed at the cats’ antics. We felt a sense of warmth and belonging, and possibly of the kind of safety that only being in the midst of family gives you.
- Female fellowship is precious
Over the summer, all the participants to the reading group were female. I loved the energy and the relaxed atmosphere (and the giggles!) of an all-female group. As I get older, I appreciate more and more the special qualities of female fellowship and friendship. I don’t quite have the vocabulary to express why this is so precious to me, but I feel it very clearly.
I would really like to thank each and every one of the bright and lovely women in this summer’s reading group – and would love to hear what you got out of this experience!
I look forward to this semester’s meetings 🙂