I spend much of my days and a bit of my nights teaching. I teach at a Community college, a 2 year college, that specializes in preparing students for careers and perhaps moving on to a four year university. I teach in the division of Behavioral and Social Sciences, primarily Developmental psychology which is the development of the human across the entire lifespan. Most of my students are pre-nursing and the majority of them are young women, probably supporting a family. Most of them are surprised to find themselves in college, whether because of poor grades or circumstances of life. Most of them struggle to make ends meet, not only financially but academically as well. Probably for the first time in their life they are facing fairly significant competition for the slots in the nursing program or other allied health fields. It is a challenge, not only for them, but for me.
I deeply want them to be successful. Principally, because most of them work very hard towards that end. They need skills that will help them in that success, but often those seem counterintuitive to what they already know. And it is difficult to explain to them that it is important to be on time (regardless of circumstances), it is important to be prepared for class and it is important to put the electronic device down and pay attention. There is almost one or two students each semester that can’t seem to subject themselves the discipline needed to make it in the world of work.
But — and this is the thin place — every semester the vast majority of the students make it. They have faced the new challenges of college and have succeeded. And each of them are on their way to careers that will serve others and provide support for themselves. Teaching becomes a ministry, a mission, that prepares many, mostly women and a few men, for professional careers.
On Tuesday’s I am going to try and highlight the everyday nature of thin places, that I contact.