In a previous article I mentioned that at our Easter lunch we went around the table and talked about acts of kindness that inspire us. For me, that comes from Susan Sutherlin.
A professor at Butler, she organizes a group of MFA and undergraduate student volunteers to visit a local high school and teach poetry and fiction writing. Susan works with such vigor every single day that the program has grown rapidly in its two short years of existence, oftentimes acting more than a simple after-school program. Through various grants food is provided for the kids (an essential, since I remember being a teenager and the constant hunger that dogged me).
More importantly, the program is more than improving reading or writing skills. It’s about the growth of the students, in their ability to express themselves and their confidence. Just see for yourself:
And it’s not a one way street. I’m astounded every time I volunteer by the passion these kids exhibit that I feel compelled to bring myself up to their level. It’s been one of my most rewarding experiences of my time at Butler. But really, just check these poets out!
What is it to study abroad for a semester? My good friend Marcello summed it up as “fun with words.” I agree completely.
Let’s unpack this. Words are not considered fun by many people. They can be clumsy, large, difficult to remember, and ultimately unfit to express what one feels or thinks. This is the view of someone who has never truly experienced F.W.W. Language becomes burdensome, associated with school and grammar lessons with a stringent Ms. Wormwood (or some such curmudgeon).
Here’s how I’ll explain my experience: when I decided to take a semester off from my English major to study Italian my reasoning was that I would be taking a break from the routine. Which I did. What I didn’t expect was how it would circle back to my love of letters.
In learning a language I inevitably reflected on my own. The language to which I had become so habituated through (ironically) my studies in literature and writing came alive to me in a new light. Looking at my own abilities in the language, I note a few places lacking: primarily my vocabulary. To amend this, I will commence a study of GRE vocabulary (a two-birds-with-one-stone sort of deal) and also utilize freerice.com, a website with a good use and good cause.
The next time you are trying to express yourself, take a moment to appreciate the miracle of language and what it accomplishes for us. In this way, it may be a bit harder to misuse this tool. In the words of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the pen is mightier than the sword.
I registered for my classes this semester, and man am I loving my future senior status. For instance, I registered in the first time slot available (thanks to the Honors Program) and I felt like I was holding all of Butler University in my palm. Thankfully, my crazed fit of power was short lived. I really should never be in a position of ultimate power…what am I saying, no one should!
In these, my final two semesters at Butler University, I will be taking advantage of everything that Butler has to offer me. For instance, I will be taking two independent studies, one for literature and one for Italian literature. When I relayed this information to my friend who goes to a state school in South Caroline that has upwards of 30,000 students, he was amazed by the idea of working one-on-one with a professor for a semester.
Besides these, I will be immersing myself in a broad array of subjects. I have the time because I am quite ahead of my schedule for graduation. I have signed up for a class that will have me teaching creative writing in a local school, one that will teach me advanced techniques of HTML website design, Chinese (it seems about time to start in on my second language), and I’ve got my fingers crossed for ballroom dance. (The video below illustrates what I expect my life to be like with ballroom dance.
Tagged: advantage, Andrew Erlandson, Butler, class, english, independent, Italian, low, registration, senior, student teacher ratio, study, university