I finally start teaching tomorrow, so the past few days I’ve been a whirling dervish of pulling documents together and reviewing things I should remember, and making sure that I start this year the way I want to and make it work the best I can. So in the middle of all this, my wife says “Hey Nathan, you should check your Facebook account.” So I log on, and there is this massive conversation on my wall, all in German!
First a little background: when my seniors graduate every year, I let them add me as a Friend on Facebook. Not before they graduate, so this is disconnected from High School life, and I’m such an infrequent poster anyways that they’re sure not getting much from the bargain. I do this as a way of keeping tabs on where my kids spread out to (one is in Guam right now) and what they’re doing.
So today a former student posts to ask me what the name of her new college German textbook means: “Denk Mal” (Just think). But she posts in German. Then another one of my students from the same class posts back to catch up with her and compare notes. In German. And then another former student from the same class dives in as well. In German. Before I know it, I’ve got three students and myself (as well as a former professor of mine) all kicking it around in German to a series of eighteen posts and counting. And they want to do it in German–not because they have to, but because that’s where the sense of community is for them. Wow. I don’t think I’ve appreciated how deeply the language soaks into all of our bones so that we use it to reach out to each other and keep the connection we’ve had and still need.
I can’t think of a better way to start the school year.