Fourteen Weeks

Loyola University clock kiosk

wallyg ( / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Every spring semester, I teach a course in interviewing at Loyola University Chicago; the class meets once a week for 14 weeks. The class begins at 10a.m. and ends at 12:45p.m. You might think that’s a long time for a class to meet, but from the professor’s standpoint, the class time flies by. (You’d have to ask my students if the same holds true for them.)

I try to mix it up by having the students do in-class interviewing exercises, listening to outstanding interviewers like NPR’s Terry Gross and Dick Gordon, analyzing the interviews they themselves do outside of class, and lecturing. This semester I had 14 students (the symmetry of it just occurred to me).

This week we had our final class and one of the final points I made was this. Think about the 6 billion or so people who live on the planet. How many of them will you ever encounter? (One student guessed less than 1%.) Then think about all the people who have ever lived and the short time we all have. Combine those two elements and it’s kind of a minor miracle to spend any length of time with anyone. That is, the group that is currently on the planet is a unique and short-lived collection and we get to meet only some of them. To quote the old expression, “Oh, only for so short a time have You loaned us to each other.”

Given that, I said it’s almost kind of sacred to spend time with a group of people as we had done in class. I found my 14 students to be interesting, smart, and engaged. Each class I’ve taught has a personality and this one was marked by independent thinking. Markedly so. Time spent with them was time well spent. I hope they feel the same.

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  • Jim

    That is an very insightful point Phil! Often, upon hearing of the passing of a celebrity or politician, I find myself quietly mourning their death for selfish reasons– because I never had a chance to meet that person!

    But, as you so poignantly point out– everyone we meet can have a sacred impact on our lives.