Freshman year of college: Part 1
Younger Daughter: You never asked me what I learned this past school year.
Me: I guess I’ve been too busy. (Looking at Husband) I need to ask you what you learned this school year.
Husband: I learned I should have been born eight years earlier. Then I could retire this year and I wouldn’t have to move my office. [The current building is being renovated. Most of the staff have had to move to another location, for the next two years. Moving was a harrowing process.]
* * * * * * *
- - - - - Chemistry, Poetry, and Phages, Oh my! - - - - -
Me (formally asking YD my annual question): What did you learn in school this year?
YD: What class should we begin with? What classes did I even take?
Husband: (asking his annual question) Did you take Eastern Philosophy?
YD: No. … Let’s begin with first semester. That would be a logical place to start. First semester I had Chem 2.
Husband: This cake is really good.
YD: I learned that chemistry is no easier even when you learn it the third time.
In Poetry class, I learned that I am (sigh), according to my teacher, too thoughtful of a writer. Like I’m too wrapped up in my own ideas.
Husband: Well, duh. I could have told you that.
YD: (voice rises with excitement) Oh, I had my Phages class! I got to dig around in the dirt which is really, really fun! We learned about the biology of phagi! And we learned about how to extrapolate them from the soil. We did a bake ’n’ shake. That was my conduit to getting my first lab job.
- - - - - Great Books and Jam - - - - -
YD: (returning to a less animated tone of voice) I had my first college essay class, the Great Books class, in which I learned I am not as great an essay writer as I thought I was. … But the books were really, really good. I finally got to read all the way through Homer – it was so interesting. He’s such a good writer. He’s The Jam.
Husband: The Jam?
YD: The Jam.
Husband: As in, the jam on your peanut butter sandwich? I’ve never heard that expression.
YD: You’ve never heard of something being someone’s jam? You need to be hip with the kids.
- - - - - Holocaust class and the Judenrat exercise - - - - -
Me: Did you have a Holocaust class?
YD: Yes! That was an amazing class. I don’t even know where to begin. (She takes a moment to think.) I learned that human beings can disappoint you in more ways than one. (Deep sigh.) Not even just in the stories we were being told. Some of my classmates’ behavior was not acceptable to me.
Husband: The Holocaust doesn’t affect people who are not Jewish in the same way.
YD: Yeah, and I don’t know why. It could have happened to anybody.
Husband: It didn’t happen to just anybody.
Me: What was the unacceptable behavior on the part of your classmates?
YD: They did not treat the stuff we were learning with respect, I felt. There was a situation in our class where we were given an exercise to pick and choose people who would go to their death.
YD: We were role-playing as the Judenrat, figuring out who would stay and who would go. The people I was doing it with – it didn’t even seem to resonate with them that this actually happened and that we …
Me: They were joking around?
YD: They did it flippantly, like, oh, we’ll send the 7-year-old girl, oh, we’ll send the rabbi. It doesn't matter what we decide.
Me: It was probably too awful a thing to have to think about. And they had to act that way as a defense mechanism.
YD: Maybe. It just irked me.
Husband: It’s hard to imagine it being real. It’s like a fantasy.
YD: Yeah. And then, the ultimate irony was that they spent the rest of the class time talking about why they were failing the class. And their main complaint seemed to be that the teacher was being unfair to them.
Up next - Second Semester of freshman year
Her observations give me pause.
OUCH. It seems to me that those classmates need to read some books and watch some films to make the Holocaust real to them.
I have no idea what Phages are. I guess I should google that!
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