By: Dr. Chris Eagle
Considering the diverse interests and backgrounds of our Human Health majors, I can’t say I was all that surprised by the incredible variety of writing projects I received – powerful, talented stories on topics like bone cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart attacks, insomnia, sex addiction, drug addiction, disability, genetic predispositions, Body Identity Integrity Disorder, accident proneness, and so on. Almost all their stories also showed a subtle appreciation of the emotional toll that care-taking can take on family members. Some stories seemed to draw from personal experience. Some not. We left it to the authors to reveal that or not. Yet in a profound sense, it didn’t matter all that much, because every student managed to write in a way that revealed something universal about the challenges and fragilities of embodiment.
My favorite memory from this particular group of students will always be how they rose to that challenge, especially in those 10 minutes or so right before class had started. Nowadays, those 10 minutes tend to be all-too-silent, with everybody either scrolling idly away on their smartphones or frantically texting or both. But this group was different. This group used those 10 minutes to quiz each other on the pop quiz they may or may not be about to take. Just in case. How did Ivan hurt himself again? Where was Gregor hoping to send his sister? What was the color of the blindman’s clothes? What did Fiona name her two dogs? What were the contents of Manley Pointer’s valise? Almost invariably, this would spiral off into a chaotic rehashing of favorite scenes and ‘shook’ reactions to the more shocking moments in the stories I’d assigned. Listening to them develop together week by week into outstanding readers and writers was easily one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve ever had as a teacher.