Thursday, November 13, 2008

Publicity for Peace

It turns out that our Peace Studies program is getting some good local publicity. At first, a mention in a small local paper; and an interview and a photo of the planning committee for the school paper. Meanwhile, I was disappointed not to see mention in more prominent local papers or my beloved local public radio station! But then, to my complete surprise, we received a request from a city news TV station for an interview! I was interviewed on camera, and then the next day they came back and filmed my class and interviewed some of my students! The segment has not aired yet, so I do not know how it all turned out. But it was all pretty exciting!

In truth, I am very camera shy and would rather stay out of the spotlight, but I knew that this was a rare opportunity to share what we are doing. My students were splendid. They were very excited and rose to the challenge, participating really well in discussion for the camera! They participate well in discussion anyway, but seeing them try extra-hard for this occasion was really wonderful!

In the life of teaching, you work really hard, and are never sure what exactly is sinking in or how all of this may or may not matter in your students' lives. It is faith that keeps you going. But in a moment like this, seeing the students working really hard to show the world how much they value what this means to them -- this class, this subject, but also our college -- really moved me!

The reaction of my colleagues to all this attention has been interesting too. "What was that all about?" they asked. "I was interviewed, and then they came and filmed my class!" I replied., with a dazed and awkward smile. "For what?" they asked, bewildered. After all, I am a quiet type, mostly working hard in the background, never trying to draw attention to myself. "Peace Studies!" I replied, surprised that they wouldn't have figured this out. "Oh," they said. It's old news around here that I'm into that kind of stuff. But I, in turn, am surprised that it didn't really dawn on them that this would make news. I knew that it would make some news, and our university publicity staff was ready and waiting -- they expected it, too.

Of course there are lots of other Peace Studies programs across the country and across the world. But I'm not talking about national (or international) news -- this is a big deal in our local area, because there are several colleges around, and no one else has a program anything like this. And we are near a military base. The whole idea of "Peace Studies" really does take people by surprise here!

So I am grateful to have had a chance to explain a bit what it is and why we find it valuable to study it and teach it here.

Maybe that's it now. I'd actually like things to calm down a bit now...

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