I know, I know, I’m coming late to the gratitude party. Nevertheless, we all know that feeling and expressing gratitude matter at all times of the year.
I am not going to make a gratitude list here, although I certainly feel profound gratitude towards many people in my life from the past and present. I am going to thank one group, and I’m going to keep it short.
This giant, big-ass shout-out of gratitude goes to my Spanish 204 class from this term. Why them? Because they are freaking adorable. They are the most adorable class I have ever taught, and I have been fond of very many classes and students over my (gulp) 30-year teaching career. Not one of the students in the class will read this post, but I certainly hope they all know how much I have appreciated sharing every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning with them.
These 15 students, every single one of them, have said “hello” and “goodbye” to me every single day—always in Spanish, always sincerely. They have greeted and taken leave, sometimes in their tired, unshowered, groggy, and decidedly collegiate states, but always as a sincere, kind, slow gesture. I ask how they are doing, and they actually tell me, always in Spanish—not always the most perfect Spanish, but always their most perfect Spanish—and then, unfailingly, to a person, they ask how I’m doing and listen to the answer.
As the semester has advanced, the students have also asked each other—strangers at first, but now, I think, real friends—how things are going. They listen to the answer and take note. I find it particularly significant that, when they emerge from group discussions and report back, they almost always report on each other, rather than speaking first about themselves. They are extraordinary in the care they take of each other and of me. This class has a community-based learning component, which means that each of the students works for at least one hour a week in our Latinx community. Maybe this means the class somewhat self-selected in terms of interest in others and general big-heartedness.
We have laughed heartily together—over their hilarious skits, our silly plays on words, and experiences they have had on campus or in our community. I laughed all the way to tears one morning when a group presented their newscast, complete with a commercial with a musical performance to sell cat food. Is it not also adorable that, in an effort to say “wait list” (lista de espera), a student said “hope list” (lista de esperanza)? I just love these things, even after so many years in the teaching trenches.
We have also huddled together on some days, hushed and chastened by tragic national news of more violence and death, more separation and anguish, and by local news of more overt expressions of racism.
This lovely class has made me think of a kind of a formula, something like “self + going beyond self + other = love,” or, more simply, “self + another = us.” I am more than grateful to have been able to spend every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of this term with this special group of students.