Greetings philosophers (and if you’re listening, philosophically-inclined microbial(?) life of the flowing salt-waters of Mars)!
Yesterday (one Standard Earth Day–or as the hip kids call them, “S.E.D.s” ago), the PSA Undergraduate Outreach committee, with the help of their trusty sidekick Cooler, held the inaugural Philosophy Lounge Hour! (or as the hip kids call it, “Philosophy Lounge Hour.”)
This man to my left is not a member of the Undergraduate Outreach Committee, but he is one of those hip kids who refers to Standard Earth Days as “SEDs” that I was just talking about. And I liked his chutzpah–and so did the undergrads! There were dozen of them! There was delicious pizza, and SOME OF THEM DIDN’T EVEN EAT IT. They were there for other reasons! Soda? Possibly. Conversation? Seemed like it! Comfy couches that smell a little bit like corn chips? Probably not! Let’s see the smiling faces of the two Masters who made it possible:
These two on my right–not professor Tsai, the other two–no, not the undergrad eating pizza, the other two–yes him–him and the other guy barely in the picture. Right–these two beat the odds! For weeks, the nay-seighers and the neigh-sayers pursued them for weeks, shoving them into lockers with Post-it notes on their foreheads that scrawled in threatening off-black-slightly-stale-sharpie read, “NO UNDERGRADS WILL EVER COME WHY ON EARTH ARE YOU ORDERING SO MUCH PIZZA GRAD STUDENTS ONLY WANT PIZZA AND YOU’RE [sic] DREAMS ARE LAME ENJOY YOUR NEW LOCKER FORT, NOOB.”
They were sizable Post-its.
But Dr. Dalmiya pulled them out of those lockers and said, “what on earth are you doing in this locker?” and inspired them to push forward, making dream reality.
I arrived to the Philosophy Lounge–heretofore referred to as “The Lounge”–at 20 of 3, somewhat skeptical. Being from New York–I was a little concerned that there would be “pizza” served from an establishment called “Boston’s,” on several levels, which I will delve into in a separate blog post sometime in “June.” Stay tuned. There was an undergraduate and one other graduate student. Already it was more promising than some had worried it might be, so that was positive. McKinney was also engaging said undergrad–Ariel, she was called, discussing things of an internet MMORPG nature. She mentioned off-hand that she’d played some sort of Lord of the Rings MMORPG at which point I burst out, “YOU LOTRO, BRO?!” and the tension broke,
until I realized that there was hot delicious pizza sitting there that I would not be allowed to eat until it had already gotten cold then I got hangry.
Then, a few more grad students peeked in, emerging from their offices, wiping the sleep from their eyes and blinking stepped into the sunlight of the Lounge. But it was super awkward still because–while really cool–there was only one undergrad in attendance–then another one showed up, so there were two, and it didn’t help much. But then we heard a distant rumble, just as Dr. Tsai’s capstone seminar began to let out. Allzzazasudden, an undergraduate, clad in brilliant armor with dozens of undergraduates behind her said, “There was once an alliance between undergrads and grads–we have come to honor that alliance.”
And then we all ate pizza and it was super cool. Dr. Dalmiya’s cameo and Dr. Tsai’s presence kept us reassured that there were adults near by, should an undergrad ask any of us a question we didn’t know the answer to and there was no yarn nearby to build a community ball so we could investigate the issue as a group.
All-in-all, everyone was enthusiastic, and some say they remain so til this day. I felt–and so did a few of the undergrads with whom I had some really great conversations–that a sort of tension was broken. Sometimes they feel about us the way we feel about professors–like they’re not quite real. That we are unattainable, unresponsive, aloof, and that anything they might want to talk to us about would be a complete waste of our time.
Which is ridiculous, we are the best at wasting our own time. Those of us with T.A. positions have had the opportunity to overcome that in their own classroom communities, but many of us have not. Our community has been incredibly enriched since yesterday. We were all in the same department on paper, but now we’re in the same philosophical community. I hope y’all continue to reach out to one another, whether there is pizza involved or not. I speak mostly for myself, I know the rest of you are totally happy to engage with undergrads without pizza. I can’t relate to you on this point, but I’m aware of it, and accept that about you. We all have our quirks.
I’m told that there will be another meeting of the Undergraduate Outreach Committee on the last Wednesday of October… the…. 2…..8th. The 28th. October 28th. 2015. Theater near you.
I know I’ll be there, and I hope to see y’all there too.
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