Aug 302009
Authors: Annie Marie Merline

For the past two years in this column, I have been reflecting about how I interact with the students in my classroom. As I have been thinking about writing my column for yet another year, it has occurred to me that I keep in touch with my students outside the classroom as well. During the summer, my students became more involved in the community we both share.

I will have to admit the bulk of my interactions have been with my former students who have become my new Facebook friends. Usually it is late at night, in a “hey, how’s it going?” sort of conversation. Many of these are too late at night when neither of us can sleep and are too wiped out to do anything more productive.

One of my earlier conversations this summer was with Chris, with whom I had not had a meaningful conversation in a couple of years. It was nice to catch up and to better understand where he is in life these days. It is nice to know he will be back on campus, and Kudos to him for turning his life toward finishing college.

I ended up chatting with Jim, often. Jim is still on campus now as a grad student. He, again, ended up being a cat-sitter extraordinaire for my summer sojourns. He also helped me finish up chores around the house, which I could not manage to get done by myself.

One of the earliest interactions was when a student of mine from my teaching days at Front Range Community College ended up on my doorstep just as the summer was starting.

Margaret has been a former student and friend of mine for more than a decade. Her life is never without a challenge, but she keeps on forging ahead. Every once and a while, her beautiful smile flashes unexpectedly before my eyes.

In mid-summer I had to say goodbye to Kate, a student from five years ago, who ended up being my roommate for more than a year. She finally spread her wings, and now she is in grad school in Washington D.C. All of us in the Honors Program can’t wait to hear about the new classes and adventures she has without us looking over her shoulder.

David ended up calling me while I was in Portland, Ore. to ask if he could borrow some space in my garage for 24 hours while he moved. That was six weeks ago now, not that I am counting .

Kristina and I ended up having an instant message conversation about “boys” last week. These sorts of introspection in the virtual world are sometimes some of the most meaningful “e-versations.”

You can trust the person and the information, but they are “far” enough away so that we can be comfortable enough to be honest with each other. It’s better to communicate from a distance than not at all, in my opinion.

As the semester started last Monday, and the summer officially came to a close, I had a “wall-to-wall” Facebook exchange with one of my former junior students. Amber posted that she was “becoming a pro at missing important phone calls. Ugh.” I chimed in, “oh no … say it isn’t so.”

Amber replied “I know! It’s like de ja vu, huh? But, last time I got the job, so maybe this will just be my shtick! (I threw that Yiddish in just for you Anne Marie!).”

I then added, “Funny you should say that. My boyfriend tells me time and time again, ‘You are more Jewish than you give yourself credit for.’ I throw him off all the time with my Yiddish. Glad you picked some up.”

Amber agreed with him by telling me that, “I used to try in keep track how many times per class you used a Yiddish word, and it was usually at least one per class.”

Here’s to learning and laughing in class for another 15 weeks.

Anne Marie Merline is an instructor for the University Honors Program. Her column appears biweekly Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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