Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Characters Wanted

I have a professor during the summer term who fits the profile for USA channel's Characters Wanted media campaign. He's quirky. He's geeky. This teacher is at least 6'4", bald on top, beard on his jawline, and has a rather high voice for being so tall. He is also incredibly thin. He looks like a character. He acts like a character.

Have you ever noticed how those characters on the USA Network channel usually have or had life experiences that make them more human and explain quite a bit why they are "characters"? Those experiences that leave the audience shocked, surprised, and sometimes empathetic when they are revealed?

My professor was healthy until ten years ago when he suffered a stroke that occured in his brain stem. I understand that most people don't survive this kind of stroke. Professor had to relearn how to walk and talk. His swallowing muscles were permanently paralyzed so he has had no solid food or drink for the past ten years. All nutrition is in the form of a liquid dripped through a stomach port.

On the first day of class, in came a very tall, emaciated man, odd shuffling gait, somewhat hunched over, who has what looks like glaucoma in one eye. There was a handkerchief in his back pocket with which he continually wiped his mouth. His voice was breathy and oddly pitched. I hoped no one would judge this man by first impressions.

And then he started to talk. And talk. And talk.

1 hour and 40 minutes of lecturing with no notes. Four days a week. No notes.

Here is a man who loves teaching and is passionate about his subject. His enthusiasm is contagious. He has a great sense of humor. He's committed to making sure we understand the curriculum.

Here is a man who had to relearn all of those basic activities we take for granted - and is now teaching logic on the university level. He is thrilled to be in class every single day and that attitude is spreading through the class.

I'm grateful that this man was put into my path this summer. Besides teaching me logic, he is also strengthening my belief in the power of positive attitude. In the time we live in, we all need that example of positive attitude.

More characters wanted.

1 comment:

Monica said...

Wow, sounds like an amazing man! I love stories like these. Thanks for sharing!

Oh, and Adam was totally dancing :)