South Slope. Asheville.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Thanking a Teacher

Recalling His Inspiration, A Neurosurgeon Thanks A Teacher  by NPR Staff    Listen to the story here.

Now, my personal story. 
When I was off at college, there were a few professors that made a significant impact on my life.  One of them, in particular, made a huge difference, and I would frequently share stories with friends and family about his classes.  If you were in the business school, you couldn't avoid them.  A decade after I graduated from Samford, I used the Internet to track down this professor, to find out where he was, and, more importantly, thank him for his influence on me.  He had moved on to a university in Virginia.
Here are excerpts from a few e-mails:
I am sorry to hear that you left Samford, but it appears that you are happy where you are.  Personally, I don't think it makes a difference.  In the end, it's all the same. You are going to continue reaching students wherever you are.
I think back to my days at Samford when I thought I understood this world we live in. I didn't know anything!  In fact, if  I were honest, I'd have to say that I was scared out of my wits to truly challenge the perceptions I had of the world.  Slowly but surely,  I fought my way out of that way of thinking, and have now developed a more independent mind.  What's fascinating is that once you break  through, it's not scary anymore.  Instead, I'd have to say that I'm the freest I've ever been.  I do owe you a personal thanks simply because you were one of a handful of people I encountered during my collegiate years who really urged me to test my beliefs.  What's funny is that you rattled my world so much back in the early 90's, I never could muster up the courage to thank you then.  So, let me thank you now.
I wish you the absolute best and hope that you remain dedicated to what you do best:  jolting people out of their comfort zones.  


Allen, I was thrilled to hear from you. Congratulations on the marriage.  Kadesarin is just stunningly beautiful.  Boy, you really had to journey a long way from home to find a bride!  Please drop me a note to fill me in on how you two met and what kinds of involvements (other than marriage!) you have in Thailand.  Interestingly, when your note arrived, my daughter's mother-in-law was in Thailand touring.  Small world.
It was truly good to hear from you - and more important to learn that you are thriving on life.  When you are next in the States, give me a call.  I obviously would relish the opportunity to learn more from you about your experiences and pilgrimage. 
A major responsibility is to be good stewards of life and of the opportunities that it presents.  You are a wonderful example of someone who has done this and you reflect what I think is a cardinal dimension of stewardship:  you did not  wait for life to come to you; you create the opportunities that challenge and nurture you. 

Let's commit to stay in touch and to keep each other informed of the  joys of our journeys.

I remember one remark you to our class and that was that we should be prepared to change our life course or career at least five times.  You said "gone are the days that people can expect to work for the same institution for 30 years."  I believe you!  Change is vital for growth. 

I hope to always pursue a life of self-education, because I know that it will equip me to withstand difficulties that might come my way, and ultimately smooth the path for any transition I might face.  Certainly, traveling is one of chief ways I try to educate myself.  Reading is another.  I never used to read things outside of the Bible, a few biographies and plenty of sports magazines.  Now I can't get enough of any books really.
Well, I know you've traveled a lot, to South Africa and other places I'm sure.  You especially know the benefits.  Would you mind telling me where you've been and what impact traveling abroad had on your life and thinking?
Have you thanked a teacher?

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