What a day.
It started with a student coming to my office hours.
Well, technically it started the moment I woke up. For a few, sleepy seconds I felt hot and scratchy and thought maybe I had a fever. I actually got really excited at the thought. Yes, I thought, a day off. Which probably should have warned me that I was ready for a breakdown.
But, as I was forced to acknowledge a few seconds later, I did not have a fever. So I went to office hours. And a student showed up! He wanted to talk about law school. He had already taken the LSAT and just wanted to know if I had any recommendations about applying to law schools. I told him a bit about my own experience.
Then he asked how law school was going. And I kid you not, I started crying.
Thankfully, not sobbing or anything. But no matter what I tried, I could not stem the large, wet tears trickling down my face. So I played it off. I rolled my eyes and made a comment about fall allergies.
And still the tears kept coming.
I talked about typical first year classes, tricks for finding jobs, things to look for in a law school. I talked about the importance of finding something outside the law school, a preemptive strike against alcoholism and depression. I told him law school was a rough place and that he would think about quitting at least once a day.
And gosh darn it, I cried. Poor kid thanked me for being honest and then practically fled.
But my day was not done. Somehow I survived my Evidence class and thought longingly of my hour break till my next class. I would curl up somewhere, I decided. Maybe have a cup of tea.
Then I got a message from another student. He wanted to talk about his exam results. He knew I did not have office hours at the moment but, if I was free, he was already at the law school.
I went in search of him. The problem is, I already gave him all the feedback I could about his exam. He didn’t flunk or anything. But he didn’t do great and I think he could do better. I already told him this and gave specific pointers about his essay. I had no idea what else to say.
So, I offered to give him a tour of the law school. It distracted him and meant I didn’t have to think very hard. I showed off the picture of my balding, great-great grandfather in the library basement and dutifully pointed out the beautiful view from the study room.
As we talked I learned he was a freshman in college, the same age as my youngest brother, and originally from China. My older sister instincts kicked in. When the student expressed interest in the law, I tracked down the only other Chinese law student I know and made the introduction. Then I said I had to go to class but he was welcome to come if he wanted.
He did want. In fact, he was delighted. He listened to the professor wide-eyed, occasionally turning to me to enthuse about something being discussed. When another Asian student walked into class late, he gaped for a moment and then said in a stage-whisper to me,
“HE IS ASIAN.”
I nodded, a little embarrassed. But also a little surprised by how excited he was to be there. I thought our two hour class might scare him off. He dutifully took notes even though I’m sure half of it was over his head. (Or maybe it was just over mine.)
And then when class ended, he walked up to the professor and said, “Thanks for letting me steal your knowledge! It was so interesting!”
The professor looked bemused and said casually, “Sure, come back next week.”
“CAN I?” asked the student.
The professor laughed and said sure.
I don’t think the law school has seen anyone that happy in a long time.
It was one of those moments that makes you stop and think. His pure joy at listening to the professor lecture on the complications of the immigration system really contrasted with my own frustrations.
Do I still really want a day off to catch up on life? Ahem, yes. But it is nice to be reminded that I have a great opportunity to “steal knowledge” every day.