Teacher, Learner, Daydream Believer (and never a homecoming queen)

An Introduction…

Feeling a bit like Julie Andrews, I suppose we should “start from the very beginning, a very good place to start…”

I have always been an academic, placing little importance on social aspects of education, or life for that matter. Perhaps it was my upbringing, an only child for the first seven years of my life, born to two scientists in one country, and raised in two others, with a sprinkling of world travel in between for good measure. It was quite intriguing for a child, who did not understand her surroundings, but only reveled in the mercurial nature of such an itinerant lifestyle, one full of museum visits, cultural experiences, and lots and lots of books. Really, there were a lot. My parents stressed the importance of education from a very early age, and I suppose the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

While I excelled in school, I seldom enjoyed it. I had to study. And work.  No television. No football games. No prom. Nada.

Sure, I took piano, art, ballet, tennis, and karate lessons as a child/adolescent, all of which my parents remind me were in vain.

Not until I completed my doctoral studies (yes, it took that long), did I begin to appreciate art, music, film, and the importance of social interaction and engagement. Maybe it was just the relief from the stress of trying to be the best at something or finishing something for that matter.  And there were other factors at play such as is life.

These realizations were all as essential to my learning, if not more, than solving equations and memorizing text. However, I needed time to develop these skills, breaking habits a decade in the making. I had to gain an appreciation for sharing learning experiences, which was difficult not only because I was out of practice, but rather, because I placed little value in them. This was not an epiphany. It is something I realized during my years in teaching.

Teaching has given my life purpose and taught me an important lesson: strive for perfection, but realize that it doesn’t exist. The journey, however, does.

A Chance for Redemption…

I now find myself at Harvard (what?!) with a some of the most amazing people, all of which I have been grateful and humbled to meet. Not only is this community of faculty, staff, and students brilliant, as I expected, but they are supportive,  collaborative, and full of humility. I feel truly blessed to have this opportunity at a second chance to be part of a learning community that is so generous in sharing insights and experiences with one another. They call this place HGSE, pronounced “hugsie” among some, which could not be more indicative of the types of people I have encountered. This is very different than my previous experiences, and I will be honest, can be unnerving at times. Luckily, it seems I am not the only one with reservations.

Loss, pain, joy, and change all help one evolve. I have experienced my fair share of them…and that has made all the difference. It has provided a new perspective which I have brought with me to Harvard. I am different now, and I like this person a lot more. I am still learning to walk the walk and realize I will stumble and fall. I will learn to forgive myself, get back up, and keep on going.

I’ve come too far to turn back now, literally and figuratively, so let’s do this!



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