In the midst of the storm we are experiencing worldwide, I want to share a note of hope from Professor Jim Hills who is teaching College Writing to our students at the Corban extension in OSCI. Professor Hills says:
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the talent level of my OSCI writing students. Several are writing at a publishable level, and I’m expecting a proposal from one of them to begin a literary publication inside the walls.
I have found these students to be unusually receptive to instruction, especially as they begin to see what they are capable of. Yesterday one of them agreed to read his essay to the class–an exercise so popular and fruitful that I’ve adjusted the syllabus to allow more time for it–and found an appreciative audience. His classmates recognized the level of writing they were hearing, and responded with applause.
As everyone was filing out at the end of the session, he came to my desk. ‘Listen,’ I said, ‘that was excellent. You have genuine talent.’
‘Well,’ he said, ‘this wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for what I’ve learned from you.’
In fact it would have happened if any of my Corban University colleagues had been teaching the course. It’s not so much about a particular instructor. It’s the chance for these men to be heard, the chance for them to think about their lives and find words to put those lives in front of other human beings, to say ‘This, too, is who I am.’
Their stories offer connections to other times and other places; in other words, connections to other people, and the joy and comfort in those connections.
I’ve not had a single essay contaminated with self-pity or claims of victimhood. I have learned about stalking a bull elk, about a disgraceful lost weekend in Munich, about parachuting for the first time, about a hilarious cooking misadventure, a big fireworks show in Peru gone wrong, about why trying a homemade zip line proved to be a very bad idea!
And now they understand why we have all those drills on punctuation and grammar. They have come to understand that mistakes in these fundamental skills is like a singer coughing in the middle of an aria. It ruins something good, and mistakes in these fundamentals suggests to the reader a kind of disrespect. The writer didn’t care enough about the reader–or the subject matter– to get it right.
They want to get it right, and that creates a teaching dynamic that is rewarding for all of us.
From what I’m seeing, money invested in this program is money well spent. I’m glad to be part of it.”
Visitors and contractors (including teachers) are now prohibited from coming into OSCI until the threat of COVID-19 has passed. Please continue to pray for our students. They are now experiencing additional isolation, but they are becoming more aware of the presence of Jesus in their lives.