Who Is In Your Class?
Let’s say you are teaching a typical large introductory lecture course to say 200 freshmen. On average, they are 18 years old. That is equivalent to 3600 years of experience.
Granted, much of that 3.6 millennia are common and fairly repetitive. Granted also, it comes from the least experienced end of the life spectrum. However, statistics demands that some of those years of life are truly unique and are in a powerful position to instruct us.
For example, in my labs just this semester, I have at least two students who, as children, fled with their families various civil wars and genocidal activities, one from Nigeria and one from Rwanda. In both cases, they desire to one day return to their native villages in some capacity to improve the lives of their former neighbors, one through pharmacy and one through chemical engineering, developing native energy resources.
They each have shared with me that though they were very young children at the time they remember the horrors they witnessed clearly. They have been back home and witnessed the changes, still love their homeland, and want to be a part of its healing. They recognized how richly they have been blessed by being able to come to the U.S. and feel an obligation to return that blessing to their homes, and not be mere consumers of it.
They consider us, their instructors, as part of that blessing. Thus, the work we do in their lives will have a direct impact on the fortunes of Africa.
Even for the ‘vanilla’ students that make up a majority of the 3600 years of human experience, we have the opportunity to shape, to transform their lives, equipping them to impact others.
Think of it, assuming each of those 200 students lives to an average age of 75, that means we are positioned to influence the next 11400 years of human experience, plus all of the years they influence.
Who knows how they will influence us?