I love having coffee with instructors. Whatever adversarial relationship I have with the Educational Institution is forgotten in the café, and I can actually connect with people who in the classroom inspire me. We talk about class, missed assignments—we interpret readings, yes, but we also talk about life. I ask for advice. How did my instructors get through school? Where does their ambivalence lie? When an instructor is honest and forthright, and when that instructor has provided me with illuminating things to study, the advice they give is believable and useful. When that advice is being given over a Mexican latte at the Wild Iris, it becomes profound.
I recently bought a book. It’s a really small book with lined pages, a placeholder, and an elastic strap to keep it closed. It fits in my pocket. I write lists in it, because lists on paper are much less scary. In my mind, my daily tasks are amorphous and daunting, but on paper… it’s only five items. I can do that. This is a simple and boring thing, maybe, but I’m doing it because that’s what works for my instructor, and if it works for her, maybe it will work for me. It’s funny how sometimes, even after a conversation on the fate of global society and various human rights crises, a little book is the most important subject.
It’s my understanding that many of us, especially of the present college-entering generation, have taught ourselves not to emulate anything, foolishly believing that we have this capacity. But who could blame us? Most of our role-models have come streaming through copper wires, belting lyrics about a woman’s role and how much fun drugs are. Emulation is dangerous, and I think most of us have picked up on this. But, since humans do emulate, and since we rarely have a choice over who we are emulating, my advice to anyone thinking about college is to put yourself where the best emulation will happen. Surround yourself with brilliant, fiery, and compassionate people, and ask them to share a coffee.
~Estin Vogel, 04.2012