Have you ever felt like you had left your body and become an observer? Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a situation where you were observing what was going on at the same time that you were living it? This happened to me once.
It was when I was at law school. I was in a discipline hearing - let me back up. I had been charged with intellectual dishonesty and I was in a hearing. Across the table from me was 100 years of jurisprudence (I love that word). There were 3 lawyers across from me and they had a shit ton of experience.
On my side of the table was me and another student and my friend. I thought I would show up and tell the story about how this happened. But something went sideways and all of a sudden I couldn't talk - I had lost my ability to advocate for myself. These things happen.
I'm not telling the story to get your pity but I want to take the spotlight off me for a moment. That was 14 years ago this year. In that room, across from me was another woman from Newfoundland and she didn't speak up. I suppose she was there , not to hear the truth but to ensure that I was punished.
I'm grateful for her. After I walking away from law school at the age of 43, I vowed that I wouldn't ever become that woman. I often think about her when I talk about our duty to speak up for those who can't speak for themselves.
You see, if I were her and looking at me through her eyes I would have seen this courageous young woman from around the bay who didn't grow up privileged. I would have seen the disadvantage that this young woman had to go through to even find the courage to come to law school while living on a disability pension. I would have wanted to dig deeper to get the real story.
But she didn't. Instead she was silent. She let me quit law school and I would have been a remarkable lawyer. I've learned a lot about myself in the intervening years. I'm in the process of preparing for a PhD now and I've been bringing together my stories or "ethnography" to share. I am passionate about the education of at risk women. I want to talk about real supports that learners need.
I can't close without talking about the impact of being forced to learn at home when you do not have the supports you need. This is happening right now to our young people. If I had a child starting university in September, I would definitely be thinking of this. You see, your university experience shapes who you are - not just the class time but the opportunity to be socialized in a group of people from all walks of life. But I am rambling. No doubt I will get back to this again.
I hope you have a thoughtful day today.
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