Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Three of the Top 10 Reasons to take a Fulbright in Hong Kong Working with General Education

10)  Because I'm in my damn forties.  

A few months ago I Google-Imaged (that's a real verb) someone I'd dated back in college just to see if anything would come up (oh sure, like you've never done this).  Something did.  It was a good thing there was a caption under the picture, because if I'd passed this person on the street--check that:  if this person had come up to me on the street wearing a t-shirt that said, "I'm Jane Doe:  We dated from April to September 1987"--I still wouldn't have recognized her.   Seriously, once I knew it was her, my main thought was, "Wow, she looks like she's forty."  Which of course she was.  And of course I am too.  And let's face it:  I look more like my dead grandfather than I do the kid I was in college. 

None of which has anything to do with anything, other than to say:  time for a friggin' adventure.  I've been in Virginia for 13 years, and even though Virginia is for lovers (unless you're gay of course, in which case you're out of luck facing the most medieval anti-gay laws outside of any country ending in "-stan") and it's kind of pretty during any season other than summer or winter, it can get old.  By the time I was 23, I'd been to 20 different countries.  By the time I was 43, I'd been to 22 different countries.  Sort of slowing down there.  Time to shake things up.  

And who knows?  Maybe plastic surgery is cheap in HK and they can make me look, say, 42.  

9)  Because I actually like that Gen Ed crap. 

Go figure:  given the choice between spending my time at a conference debating whether or not Dickens hated women, whether or not Dickens loved his sister-in-law, or whether or not Dickens spelled the possessive form of his name "Dickens'" or "Dickens's" (seriously, academics give a crap about this sort of thing) or spending my time helping biology majors understand why poetry can save lives (just ask William Carlos Williams) or talking with business majors about how abstract art can blow your mind (just as Rothko or Gormley), I'll take the latter two.  

Put another way, I'm one of the six people in the world who honestly believes that general education courses--those courses you take because you're required to, instead of because they're part of your major--matter as much or more than your major courses.  I know too many people who started out in one field--say, the eminently practical English--only to leave college and end up in something completely different, say, accounting, or architecture, or scamming grannies out of their retirement money.  College is a lot like life in most ways--you have to cope with a lot of different  people, you have to stay on top of things, you have to on occasion clean your refrigerator--but in one way it differs radically:  jobs do not carry course prefixes.  You can't, in other words, say "I'm an accountant, therefore I shouldn't have to do anything with an ENGL, SOCI, or BIOL prefix attached to it" (if you don't know what those letters mean, then you smoked way too much back in college).  I know accountants who ended up working with religious groups and having to know about state laws and what features of the environmental impact requirements were essential and therefore tax deductible, and which were not.  I know architects who worry more about the socio-political impact of their designs than they do their drawing skills (now obsolete, by the way, because of those friggin' computers).  I know scam artists who use tons of psychology to pry those grannies away from dreams of retirement in Reno--which is just as well, since Reno is kind of a dump.  

What's more, I like having conversations with scientists and sociologists and art historians and political scientists (well, okay, not political scientists) about how to make their classes actually matter to students who are taking them because they have to.  

Sorry, this is sounding earnest, so I'll shut up.  (But it's true.  Really.)

8)  Because I've been told Hong Kong is so humid it'll give you curly hair. 

Which is cool, since I'm bald.  

Note:  This blog is a personal blog and in no way reflects the views, beliefs, or culinary tastes 0f the Fulbright Organization, CIIES or IIES or whoever else it is that picked me for this grant, or US Attorney General Eric Holder, who's kind of cool in a geeky way.  

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