The student whom I had rushed to meet with on Friday may rival my other student. As I mentioned, this student is an intern at a Really Really Famous Museum. Really Really Famous Museum, however, is closed for renovations, so they really really shouldn't be accepting interns since they don't have anything for this guy to do. He is, I swear, filing other intern applications. That is explicitly NOT what he is supposed to be doing in the internship. The supervisor of all of the internships at the several Really Really Famous Museums and Libraries told me specifically, "they should be working on research projects not mopping floors or filing papers."
This guy, however, has an optimistic and positive attitude, despite describing his function as resembling the movie Office Space. "Hey, I get access to the library and archives," he said. "When I'm done for the day, I go up and do research."
Excuse me? Did I hear correctly? Research? In an archive?
Again, I weep for joy.
One of the sad things is that both of these guys, along with many of my other students, have actually been accepted to major and prestigious universities. They just can't afford to go them. Don't get me wrong, I love having them in my classes and I think community colleges are absolute boons to people because they are more affordable; but it pisses me off that the opportunities for any of my students to exploit their intelligence and move into the universities where they can have the prestige of the university's name on their diploma and the connections with more important professors than myself, professors whose names can open more doors for them -- it pisses me off that these things are not available to my students because these things are expensive and lead to crushing debt.
The students have to be street-fight scrappy to get educated in a world where a college degree is essentially a requirement for survival. It's no wonder that they get discussions of power and economics in ways that my more privleged students didn't and probably won't. They fight those battles every day. Sitting in my class is part of that fight. It's no wonder that my student who is a socialist organizer gets quite a few recruits.
I don't do a whole lot that is explicitly political, but this work at a community college is inherently political. I'm a piece of an institution that makes sure that these two amazing students -- two students who hang out in the most important archives and libraries in the country, who find learning not simply fun but as natural as breathing -- and all of their cohort keep on to wherever they are going.
May they kick ass and take names when they are there.