Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My Visit to a Classroom

MadLadyPoet of Appalachian Voices blog did a writeup on me when I visited her college classroom.

Here's the link to the full article:

Appalachian Voices

Here's some highlights of the writeup:

"The day of Stephen’s visit arrived and I was very excited to see what my students would learn from this lesson. I met Stephen at the fireplace at the Memorial Student Center and we went over last minute details. I would introduce him, and make sure that every student had copies of the excerpts. Stephen would then read from each chapter, explain his reason for writing it and then take discussion questions from the class. It all seemed simple enough, but I worried about how the class would react to Stephen. He was tall and slender with dark ebony skin, and dark curly hair that was shaped into a Mohawk. He was wearing jeans, a vest he had bought on Canal Street and an oversized jacket. I did not say anything, but he noticed that I was uncomfortable and he looked at me and grinned.

“You’re uncomfortable, aren’t you? he said.

I had to grin back. “Yeah, slightly.”

“Don’t worry. This will definitely shake them up a bit.” he replied.


Stephen read carefully from each excerpt and then explained his reasons for writing that particular piece. He told the class that although he grew up a minority in West Virginia, that experience taught him to have respect for other cultures and that as West Virginians; they had a lot to offer other cultures. With each reading, Stephen reiterated his point that developing relationships with people of other cultures could offer this class a great deal of learning opportunities. He also spoke out on what he witnessed during the 9/11 attacks and how Muslims in New York were treated directly after the attacks. To my great surprise, the students asked many questions. What was it like to grow up black in West Virginia? Did New Yorkers make fun of Stephen because he was from West Virginia? What was it like in New York after 9/11? The questions generated discussions that went into areas I had never considered. That day, I became a student too.