August 10, 2010

Anthropology class.

In high school, the anthropology classroom shared the same building as the visual art studio.

I was never really interested in creating visual art, but I did take a liking to many of the students in that class, and was enthralled by the large, unencumbered studio space where the students created their work. By the third week of classes, I was accompanying art students to the studio in the late evenings — the doors were never locked on any of the buildings on campus — as they went to finish their assignments.

By the fourth week of classes, I was still accompanying the art students to Ondaatje Hall, but was no longer spending time in the studio. Instead, I would sneak into the anthropology classroom and spend hours in the dusty room, only crawling out late into the night to head back to my dorm to get enough rest so I wouldn’t look too sleepy the next day.

The back of the anthropology classroom had four bookshelves full of ethnographies and theoretical texts, and I was addicted to the contents of those shelves.

Other than the bookshelves, the classroom wasn’t much to look at: a chalkboard, a few long wooden tables with wooden chairs, a sink, a coffee machine, some cabinets full of chalk and coffee supplies. Yet, I would spend a few nights every week, after dinner and evening activities, sitting at one of the tables in the anthropology classroom, coffee mug by my side, hunkered over books.

I’m not a bookworm — when I was much younger, it may have been difficult to tear me away from a good read, but as I’ve grown up, I still enjoy books but am no longer obsessed — so my fascination with the academic texts in the anthropology room wasn’t because of a love of reading. If that was the case, I would have spent hours in the campus library. Instead, my addiction to ethnography was due to a person: Nico Bethel.

To me, Nico wasn’t just a teacher. She was also someone that fostered passion, that made me (and many of her other students) not just fans of the subject, but passionate about all things anthropology. She made me want to learn more, want to read more, want to excel. She didn’t just teach: she ignited passion.

A few months ago, my friend Sacha wrote a blog post about dreams of wild success. When it came to writing a response to that post, I stalled: I couldn’t actually pinpoint what exactly would feature in my dreams of wild success.

I’ve been thinking a lot about high school, recently. My ten-year high school reunion kicks off in a few days, and this has me thinking of what I learned from my two years at Pearson College, and how those two years influence and inspire my life now.

That’s when I figured out my answer to Sacha’s question:

In my dreams of wild success, I ignite passion.

Whether it is as a teacher, a colleague, a friend, a competitor, or anything else, success to me is knowing that I have helped someone become invested in, inspired by, and engrossed with something that they love. Success is helping people discovering what moves them, and helping them use that discovery to make their life more fulfilling, exciting, and happy. My dreams of wild success involve enabling others to not just dream of, but also accomplish, their own visions of wild success.

Success, in my eyes, is doing what Nico Bethel did for me over ten years ago: making me fall in love with something so hard that I would spend my nights sipping coffee and reading books, forgoing sleep, all while the art students created masterpieces in the studio next door.