As some of you already know, I didn’t take high school very seriously, so I had to go to community college first. At the time, I was embarrassed because my friends went off to major state universities all over the country. Looking back, I’m glad I took the cc route. Community college was a very cost friendly way for me to figure out what I wanted to do and get my grades back on the right track. I also had to get myself academically sorted out by taking pre-college courses. (I hate math.)
I told myself that I would just bide my time until I could transfer, but I learned to love it. Suddenly, I felt like I was doing what I wanted to do in high school. I was taking interesting course like Astronomy, Philosophy, World Religion and eventually I’d discover that I wanted to major in Anthropology. I worked part-time at Little Caesars Pizza, lived at home and saved money for my plane ticket out of state.
Contrary to what high schoolers (and maybe others) think, community college instructors are great teachers. Honestly, I’d rather teach at this level because it was so honest and refreshing – so “Good Will Hunting”. Folks were real, you know what I mean? Because after I transferred to Fort Lewis College, I ran into a big something called A Professor’s Ego and how thou shall humor them. Love them all though, love them all…
So, because the courses I remember most were from my general classes, I’m a fan of liberal arts education. I remember them over my concentration. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy Anthro/Archaeology. I thought field work was fascinating. I was really into human evolution and burials and even did archaeology after I graduated. But if I think back on the courses that had the most impact, Anthro isn’t in the mix.
Now, we, Anthropology majors liked to snub our noses at Sociology majors, but I had to take a Socio 100 course so I chose Social Issues. I remember sitting in that auditorium and feeling like I was participating in the world for the first time. We read Food First, a thick paperback, filled with depressing facts on how we feed (and don’t feed) the planet. It was important, nevertheless, for us to understand how the business of food works.
In African History, I quickly learned how little the US cares about Africa and how much Africa is insanely massive, diverse and rich in natural resources. Our blond haired slightly Muppet-like professor was passionate about Africa, made us memorize where every African country is, and challenged us to find Africa in everyday news.
He also brought back a wife from Chad and I was forever intrigued what beauty he managed to snag and bring back to the mountains of Colorado. It was a good class to take. We should certainly be educating our youth on world histories especially now when I feel we need a deeper compassion and understanding about what’s going on in the world we live in.
I should not have been allowed in Shakespeare. Technically, I was still a freshman and Shakespeare was a senior level course, but somehow I managed to slip in the door. It was also horrifically scheduled at 7.30 in the MORNING during the winter trimester. Our dear professor moved it to 7.45, but it still was brutal to study Shakespeare that early in the morning.
He was a great teacher though and we covered many of Will’s plays and sonnets. What was memorable though was my end of the term paper. We had to choose a play to analyze and I chose The Winter’s Tale. And while my friends went home for Thanksgiving break, I was too far away so I chosen to house sit or trailer sit during one of the craziest winters Colorado had seen without any heat (the heater broke). I threw myself into my paper and was rewarded an A+ along with the words, “Lani, this is by far the best Shakespeare paper I have seen in years…”
Philosophy of Religion was a class that I took my senior year with a friend. She hated it, but I enjoyed it so much I considered double majoring. Dr. Garcia even called me into his office to try to convince me to double major, but I was so close to graduating I couldn’t imagine sticking out another term or two. It was in this class that I cried, much to my embarrassment, but I couldn’t help it.
We were listening to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who is best known for her book On Death and Dying. She did her life’s work on near-death experiences and what struck me were the recounts of what people went through after they died.
You have to understand that this topic has been a lifelong study ever since I lost my father when I was six. And so to hear about what folks see, hear, do when they are heading over to the other side, and thinking about my father was too much as I often wondered where he was and what happened to him, if that makes any sense, and so I started crying.
I excused myself, but when I returned I was surprised that Dr. Garcia had stopped the tape and waited for me to sit down and start it again. Nope, no avoiding it now. Yes, I sure know how to act like a fool in public. This is the problem with being a senstive person.
History of Art is another major I wish I could have studied further having wanted to work in a museum since I was in high school. Museums are quiet, peaceful and filled with curated goodness. I need more art and history museums in my life. Art is music for the eyes. We only studied art until the Renaissance, but it was enough for me to discover artists you never learn about in school, especially as an American. We are not art educated and with the arts no longer (?) taught in public high schools, I suppose a saving grace is the Internet.
Which higher education courses transformed you?