Yes, it takes a village. I know that that statement really irks some people, not just because it’s a book by the present Secretary of State, OK maybe because it’s her book, but the thought is a correct one. We just hired three new classroom coaches for collegeman for the new semester. The number hired wasn’t because we had to juggle people’s schedule, it was because each was terrific in their own way and more importantly they bring something to the table that collegeman really doesn’t get. They each bring a different part of America.
Collegeman lives in the wonderful world of upper middle class suburbia. He attended one of the best public schools in the country and attends a very well respected college not far from home. In fact one of the reasons we chose this college over another is because it is cited as the most diversified college on the east coast in many college lists. His high school guidance counselor even recommended it over all the other schools he had been accepted to because of its diversification. Get collegeman out of his comfort zone. Broaden his horizons. Well that sort of fell a little flat.
The reason being is that collegeman lives at home. While he does meet students from around the country and the world in his classes, he does not interact with any of them on a daily basis. He has very little to do with the social world on campus, even though we keep trying to improve that, and does not spend a lot of time hanging out even in the library. So while the school offers an amazing cross section of the world it is lost on collegeman.
Now don’t get me wrong. He has had discussions in his classes with students from around the world and the country. He discussed politics with his professors, who of course are all liberal while collegeman is no holds barred fiscally conservative. It did make for interesting discussion for him but I am not sure that a lot of it was retained as a look into the greater world. He had taken numerous courses and had only one course by a professor that was not an American. Interestingly even his coaches, therapists and every support person in his life was pure suburban America. Well I have done something about that.
We put an add in the listserv for the graduate school and received some pretty amazing resumes. Every one of them showed a unique individual who had a tremendous desire to do “good” and gain experience working with persons with autism. They all were also available at the times that collegeman needed them. So what was I to do?
The first resume was from a man who had served in the first gulf war, had stayed in the military for ten years. Came out and opened a business but went back to school for special education when his daughter was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. He is also an immigrant from Argentina. He seems organized, kind, intelligent and caring. Also it’s not such a bad idea that collegeman have a male role model telling him what to do. I realized other than his father and the therapist, everyone ordering him around is female. Some more male role modeling wouldn’t be so bad. He could also see that men can make up what kind of life they want, just like women. That hubby is just one type of breadwinner, that there are many models. Oh yeah, one more thing too, it’s time that collegeman saw on a daily basis that every Hispanic is not a maid, gardener, service worker in the cafeteria. That Hispanic Americans want the same things that he does and that they want to belong to this country too.
The second resume, was from a young woman who used to be a corrections officer. Presently, she works as a supervisor in a chain multi-purpose store and is raising twins as a single parent, while she goes for an advanced degree in special education. She is also African-American. Now collegeman is not racist in anyway shape or form, but he really knows no minority persons. I know that he doesn’t think about race or ethnicity as a factor in life, but I am sure he will learn a bit about reality in talking to her too. She is completely opposite in her politics from collegeman and I suspect will give him a run for his money. Her undergraduate degree was also in history, and immediately when collegeman went into his discussion of genocide, she was right there with him. She will teach him a thing or two about female strength, independence and perseverance.
The third resume was from a woman who had years of experience in special education. She is teaching at the college as a writing instructor and wanted to work with collegeman, after all it is what she went to school for. No she is not any different than most people that collegeman deals with in his life, but she has children to raise, a household to run, and another career. She also has experience in helping guide adolescent aspies through their paces. Yep, I asked her to help him in art. I don’t know what will happen with the new art class, in the new semester. It is a different teacher, but I know that just in case, he has someone who knows how to deal with anxiety issues. Oh, she also comes up to his bellybutton. Just because someone is smaller than you doesn’t mean you don’t listen when they have something to teach. Listen to those that know, will be the motto here.
Interestingly, too collegeman has to pick an advisor. He has decided to major in history and minor in criminal law. He sat down with his present advisor to work on the required essays and documentation. They discussed who he would ask to be his advisor. She called me and we spoke about it. Collegeman has taken several history courses and the one professor who seemed to really get him and understand him was the department chair. He is an African immigrant. He is also a Moslem. Collegeman is going to ask him to be his advisor. I hope he says yes, that the professor is not too overburdened. Some more stereotypes need to be broken down.
So, I have tried to set up a village for collegeman for the next semester as best I could. I think that collegeman needs to concretely understand just what America is all about. It isn’t for the most part his little privileged world that we were able so far to provide for him. It is bigger, better and vastly more interesting than anything he could have imagined. A nation made up of wonderful, good people, who don’t always agree, but all with the same goal in mind; to make this nation our home, to make a future for our children, to be recognized and respected for our achievements no matter race, creed, ethnicity or religion.
I think his will be an interesting semester for collegeman. He may just learn more than he bargained for. I sure hope so!
Until next time,