Well, I arrived safely home again after traveling out to Louisville to score Advanced Placement exams. With the airport pat down, the boarding of the plane and was subsequent deplaning due to weather related concerns, and the chaos of BWI’s parking shuttle system, there were moments I wasn’t sure I would ever get home. But, I did. There were a few moments of reflection that I had during my trip though.
I’ve been grading AP exams for 8 years; I started the summer between my two grad school years. That means that the AP readings have spanned my entire professional career. I’ve gone from living in basically a renovated porch to being a homeowner since then. I’ve gone from not knowing where I would work when I “grew up” to having a job where, all things considered, I’m pretty spoiled.
And, it’s interesting to see how the AP experience has changed along with those changes. I remember the first year that I was there people said obnoxious things like, “Oh, we heard they really needed readers this year,” as if I was the pond gunk scraped from the bottom (though don’t get me wrong, there were kind, gracious readers too who I still talk to when I see them in the summer). And, now, when I’m there, instead of mumbling out the fact that I’m a grad student, I don’t quite know how to introduce myself to the group. Should I say I teach freshmen research and leave it at that? mention that I direct the writing center? say that I chair a department?
I noticed this new professional lens in discussions with my roommates too. I don’t talk much about specific assignment development anymore. Instead, we’d talk about institutional assessment, curriculum revision, and other things that weren’t even on my radar in grad school.
But, the trip reminded me that the grad school days were different but good as well. Aspects of it felt like going home. I got to stay with my amazing friends Joe and Sara, who are planning a church in Indiana this fall. I was reminded that for me grad school was a time that cemented my belief that authentic communities are 100% crucial for spiritual and personal health. I was always welcome in their home and even in their extended family. Once their family even let me have Easter dinner with them in the NICU. This year reminded me of the blessings of the past. It was good to catch up with this couple, and since I visited over Father’s Day weekend, they invited me to tag along to Sunday dinner with the extended family. As soon as I walked in, Sara’s mom said, “How are you J Dub?” (my grad school nickname). I sat down to dinner with them, was reminded of the blessings of the past and was inspired about what I want in the future. I want to cultivate a family that extend hospitality with joy, that makes people feel welcome, that has open arms.