Sunday, July 3, 2011

Colleagues make Coker College a great learning community

This is a holiday weekend around the country but the Hartsville YMCA did stay open for those wanting to work out on a Sunday. As I began lifting I noticed Mal Hyman in another section putting up some weights. It was good to see him back in the Ville. A few minutes later we began to talk -- instead of lift.
Mal had recently returned from an eight to ten-day trip (if this was a new story I would check those dates) to Mexico as part of the Witness for Peace program. This is a program in which Mal, a sociologist, has had a long-time interest. This summer he went with the group to learn more about the immigration situation and drug war from the Mexican perspective. In between sets he was telling me about the people involved in the trip and some of the presentations and reports they were hearing from the people involved in these issues on a day-to-day basis. Many times I have commented that being part of a college learning community is probably the best job I have had. My colleagues are really smart people who are on a life-long learning quest.

Professor Hyman is a great example of the kind of colleague I mean. He is one of the most active teachers on campus and when he gets just a little time he looks for ways to broaden his knowledge, experience and perspective with direct activity so that when he teaches SOCIAL PROBLEMS the examples he shares with students are from some of the most up-to-date material possible.

We are going to spend some time in the next week or two at lunch and I am hoping to get some more descriptions of some of the things he learned on this most recent excursion. His major conclusion is that the linkage between what happens within Mexico and what happens in the United States in sometimes disparate areas must not be ignored. But, we interrupted ourselves quite a bit during today's discussion, so details have to come later.

Mal and I talk frequently and he is a good example but what I stress when I get the opportunity to talk with prospective Coker College students is that the effort and intelligence that Mal puts into his teaching and research is replicated over and over by some of the smartest, most caring people I have known and at Coker, they are the people leading the classes day by day.

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