Virtual Education…

A couple of days ago I saw this status update on my Facebook feed:  Just overheard a student say: “I can’t wait until all the classes at FSU are virtual.”

It got the wheels turning and me thinking about all sorts of things.  I could go in various directions with this post.  I could write about how we seem to be drifting out of our real lives and into cyber ones (and I am most definitely included in this as I spend a great deal of time connecting with others through my computer).  I could write about how helpful it would be for us to take time during our days to turn off our phones, close our laptops and just BE Present.  I could also talk about how important I think it is that Universities stick with business as usual as well as offering more options for those who need them.  But what (or who) I’ve decided to write about is Dr. John Hancock.

Dr. Hancock, or John as he insisted we call him, was one of my history professors in college.  In fact, I loved him so much that I took 3 classes with him and would have taken more if they were offered.  He was incredibly passionate about history and politics.  When I sat in his classes, I could feel his energy.  I soaked it up, listened intently, and always left wanting more.  It was because of him that I decided on a concentration in History.  He was larger than life, yet he was one of us.  He wore jeans to class and would often be found indulging in a pre or post-class cigarette.  But when he stood before us talking about slavery or the Vietnam War, he was brilliant.  He put his heart and soul into his work.  I’m not sure if his passion would have been as apparent if I’d taken his class in my own living room, virtually.  I would have missed the way he moved around the room or the way his eyes lit up.

He influenced my life tremendously.  My passion for Civil Rights was ignited in his classroom.  He gave me the words and background for what was in my heart.  He taught me not only history, but compassion for my fellow man.  In essence, he gave me the facts and the figures to explain my bleeding heart.  And it happened because I was THERE with him, because I spent two semesters and a summer session in his presence.

I am grateful that I had the ability and the means to go to college.  There is nothing like the feeling of sitting in the classroom with someone that is on fire about a particular topic.  Sure there were lots of times I was lazy, tired, and barely awake.  If I have any regrets, that is one of them, that I didn’t take advantage of those great minds that graced my presence for my 4+ years in college.  Online degrees are a good option for those with busy lives and no superpowers, but to think that a regular full-time student might wish that all their classes were virtual makes me a little bit sad.

What about you?  Care to tell us about a teacher that influenced your life or share your thoughts on virtual universities….


Weekend Reflections

It’s Sunday evening and we returned from Savannah this afternoon.  We had a great weekend.  We were blessed with an easy drive to and from, despite the holiday travelers.  It seemed to be the perfect time to be there because the weather was just right.  It was only a  little brisk but even without my jacket (which I forgot) I never got that cold.  Thanksgiving dinner was fabulous.  At 5:30 in the evening we pretty much had Casbah restaurant to ourselves.  I was worried this meant the belly dancer wouldn’t make an appearance but she did.  The girls ran up, tipped her and got a lesson.  They looked adorable.  After they pranced back to the table she pulled me up for  a lesson.  There was no getting out of it, so I danced.  After dinner we walked along the river front and stopped at The Savannah Candy Company and The Warehouse.  The girls played on a boat-shaped “playground” while Mark and I sipped on Yuengling. We ended the evening with the girls telling us all they were thankful for.

Friday morning we headed out for a day of sight-seeing.  We decided to buy a touring package deal.  We took the green and orange bus to the Savannah History Museum.  We watched a movie on Savannah’s history.  I realized there are certain periods of history I am very fascinated by and so much of what took place in Savannah throughout the years intrigued me.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Olglethorpe (the founder of Savannah) had originally prohibited slavery there.  His reasons were less about the inhumanity of it and more about work ethic in general, but it was nice to know it at least began with these kinds of standards.  (Eventually the citizens demanded the use of slaves and the ban was lifted at least until slavery was prohibited nationwide.)  I was also very inspired by Juliette Gordon Low’s story and may even consider putting the girls into Girl Scouts (which is something I was terrified of as a child).  After the tour of that museum (which houses the famous bench that Tom Hanks sat on in Forest Gump) we went back to the river front and had a delicious lunch at Huey’s.  After lunch we went to the Telfair museum and completed the tour of the entire city on the green and orange bus.  It was in the evening we discovered we had arrived in Savannah on the weekend of Holly Days.  Holly Days included an outdoor ice-skating rink and “snow” among many other interesting activities.

On Saturday morning we bought passes for the girls to play in the “snow” and did that for a short while.  Callee got hit with a snow ball immediately upon entering and ran back to me crying.  It was their first time ever seeing “snow” (the “snow” was actually shaved ice blown off of a truck).  After about twenty minutes of getting hit with snowballs we headed to the Owens Thomas house.  It was the first house in Savannah with indoor plumbing.  The architecture was amazing and the entry way made me feel pretty good about the color choice in our master bedroom.  After that tour we ate lunch at Clary’s.  Clary’s was one of the restaurants seen in the movie Goodnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  It was delicious and I’m sure way more fattening then any omelet should be.  We ended Saturday with a Ghost Tour, which wasn’t quite the same without entering the Sorrel-Weed house (a haunted house featured on Ghost Hunters that used to be included in the tour).

I thought about Amy a lot while on the trip.  There were many times when I had to force back tears, but Mark I think knew and asked several times if I was OK.  One of my facebook friends had commented that I would see a frog while on the trip.  I saw a lot of frogs, though not real ones.  I saw so many decorative frogs that I felt there was no way Amy would send signs in that abundance.  Simply put, I realized frogs are cute and a lot of people like them.  So Saturday afternoon (after having come to this conclusion) we stopped one more time for the girls to play in the snow on the way back to our hotel.  I was leaning on the fence and looked down.  There was some sort of toy there and I asked Bella to pick it up.  When she did I realized it was a toy frog.  She handed it to me and I knew IT was from Amy.  I could almost feel Amy’s giddyness at watching my girls play in snow for the very first time.

So this post is way past my personal word count limit, so I will sum it up for now.  I am thankful for a wonderful weekend with my family!  I learn a little something new each time I go to Savannah and definitely make new and special memories with each visit.

*I will add some pictures when Mark moves them from the camera…

Georgia On My Mind

Last year was our first Thanksgiving as a (more or less) vegetarian family.  I made spaghetti squash and cheese ravioli.  It sucked!  Besides waking up to the parade on TV and being off from school/work, it felt like just another day.  Holidays are tricky every year because we live so far away from our families.  In the past, the girls have not made for good traveling companions so we would avoid it (traveling) at all costs.  Now we have added an extra obstacle to the holiday season…not eating meat.  This year, after the option of my mother-in-law visiting was taken off the table, we decided to take a Thanksgiving vacation.  Tomorrow we leave for Savannah where we intend to make Thanksgiving less about turkey and more about experience, culture, history, and ghosts!

The last time I was in Savannah was in April of 2009, with my three best friends…Amy, Kristin, and Heather.  I am so thankful to be returning to a place where I now have great memories of mi amigas!  Here we are seven months ago:


Above: Heather, Amy and me at The Chart House restaurant.


Above: Kristin and me (getting the first glass of wine).

sav3 Left: Me, Kristin and Heather in the garden of The Davenport House … Amy was in the room busy napping and growing babies!

sav4Right: Me, Amy and Kristin getting our belly dancing lesson at The Kasbah Morroccan restaurant.

Above: Amy tipping the belly dancer at Kasbah.