Teaching Assistants

As I wrote this, I couldn’t help but remember the remarks made by our Argentine Professor Santiago Legarre the first time he asked for volunteers to be his teaching assistants, “ …anyone interested can write a one page essay and put it in the carton box by….8 am.” As if aware of our responses and anxious to make himself as clear as possible, our professor kept repeating this throughout the next few days before the deadline.
D-day came, and there he was the professor sitting at the centre of the classroom touching his hair as he always does reminiscing about all that is around him as he always does. He then made his way to where the carton box was. His body language spoke of the burden that he carried on that day that he would reveal to us in a short while.
What came afterwards from the professor was disappointment as probably 1/12th of the whole class expressed interest in this opportunity presented to us. Then my attention shifted to the rest of the class as he kept expressing his sadness trying to understand why we were presented by an opportunity and majority did not show interest. As he kept talking, I stared at him, listening to his spoken words, their ironic thrust I could not easily understand, perhaps even most of my classmates. ‘You first present us with an opportunity to be volunteers, then you get mad at us for not showing much interest! I couldn’t believe this! I thought when given a choice, you have freedom to express whatever consent either yes or no.’ I wondered.
Later on, it became clear what he was trying to put across. His main goal as a professor is to inspire and motivate his students to seek out more information and in this case those who were gifted literary. To him the only way one could be better is if he or she exercised their gift and what better way than help sharpen the writing of their juniors who were most likely not as good. Another thing I guess he was trying to pass across to us is that we should seize opportunities when they are in front of you because in life you are never really guaranteed about next year, next month or next time.
I must say that as one of the teaching assistants this year it was a good experience, trying to read 10 essays each week or 30 essays, correcting them while still finding a way to muddle through schoolwork and eventually having it together was exciting yet pressurizing.
From this it’s certain that occasions for defining moments do not arise every day. When they do, we must seize the opportunities as they present for improving one’s life.

Sharon Kitur