In the fall of 2006, I was starting my sophomore year of college at Purdue. It was to be a very important year for me, in several different ways – and most of those ways hinged on a couple of very important classes.
EDCI 205 (Exploring Teaching) and EDCI 285 (Multiculturalism & Education) are two required courses for education majors at Purdue. I believe 205 is the first early field experience education students participate in although I could definitely be wrong about that. 285 basically exists to make us aware as human beings (but mostly as teachers) that we will come into contact with many different types of people, and how all these cultures will mix together in different ways but we have to teach them anyway. Or something. It was a long time ago.
The important thing about these two classes in the fall of 2006 is that they were being taught by two friends, Bruce and Sybil, who decided that instead of teaching two separate classes of the same group of students, they would just teach their sections together. I’m not sure if it was the clear enjoyment of what they were doing they brought with them every day, the in-depth discussions about our field experiences, or the frequent debates which would inevitably erupt between Bruce and members of the class who didn’t totally agree with his point of view (always fun to watch), but that class has cemented itself in my college experience.
Of course, it’s also the class where I met Mike – who I soon found out was in the Crazy Monkeys, an improv comedy group I saw during my freshman year and for some reason thought to myself “yeah, I could do that” despite having done nothing like it ever before. Becoming good friends with Mike during our time in the 205/285 led to me auditioning for and becoming a new member of The Crazy Monkeys later that semester. It is completely fair to say that my life would be absolutely different than it is now had I not met Mike and made that decision to try out. Almost all of the friends I either regularly hang out with or stay in frequent contact with came from my time in the Crazy Monkeys. To say it was a major component of my college experience is an understatement. It defined who I was and who I would become in many parts of my life, and I am very grateful for the time I had with the group. Improv is still a huge part of my life, and I am not sure what would have replaced it had I never tried it out.
But wait! The 205/285 Mash-up Bruce & Sybil Variety Hour was also the class where Mary and I met each other, and through a mutual friendship with the aforementioned Mike, became close friends. Most of our time together was doing mutual friendship things, like getting McDonalds Happy Meals or going to see comedy shows on campus. It wasn’t until the spring semester that things got real real. Bruce announced at some point during the fall that he would be teaching a different class in the spring – EDCI 490 (the title was something like “Continuing Issues of Multicultural Education”) and that we were all welcome to take it – and that it could be worth graduate credit if we didn’t have an elective slot for it to fill.
So I decided to take that class – and so did Mary. And probably nothing would have happened between us at all but for one tiny thing that happened one day. Mike maintains that he had some kind of behind-the-scenes puppet master nonsense going on – which may have been part of it, admittedly. The catalyst for what would come next, however, came one day when I got to class and saw that Mary had sat in my seat. For whatever reason, we always sat with our desks in a circle in that class – I think Bruce liked having discussions better that way – and I always sat against the back wall near an audio cabinet. There was no real reason, it was just where I sat the first day and things like that have a way of staying.
Anyway, Mary was sitting in my seat. And I said “Hey, you sat in my seat!” And she said “So just sit next to me.” And I did. And so in February 2007 we were dating, in June 2008 we were engaged, in June 2009 we were married, and in August 2013 we had a son.
I’m not sure if the content of the classes was that memorable or had any profound effect on me as a person. The field experience was just visiting a school – and having been in school all my life, it was about what I expected. Learning about different cultures is always important, but not only was I attending a fairly diverse campus, I have been brought up to be a tolerant and accepting person (or so I like to think), so it was just reinforcement of what I already practice and believe.
What really made the 205/285 important for me was who I met and where they led me. Meeting Mike and Mary took my life where it needed to go, and I would have neither the friends nor the experiences that surround me now. I would be a completely different person, and I am not confident he would be the better for it.
In fact there’s absolutely no way.