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Day 42: When a Teacher Acts with Kindness and Generosity

One of my graduate professors has been bringing our T/Th Ecocomposition class food every day since the start of the semester. When she brought donuts early on in January, I think most of us thought it would be a one time thing. But she hasn’t missed a day. I’ll call her “A.”

She doesn’t get anything “extra” for this. She doesn’t get to invoice her receipts and receive the money she spent on Trader Joe’s goodies on her next check. No one is watching her. Just us. And today it hit me how wonderful the act is.

This morning was my first day back to school having to get a toddler and a 8-week-old puppy ready before a long day ahead. There was so much added scrambling that I hardly took a few bites of a bagel my husband forgot and left on the counter.

When I sat at the wooden table this morning for class, pop-tarts, coffee dunkers, granola bars, and mini brownies with pink frosting and sprinkles adorned the table. I slid a brownie into my mouth and it tasted like sugary phenomenal bliss.

She’d tell us she started bringing us food because we voiced our concerns that we don’t get paid enough for the labor we do as graduate students for the university. Sometimes there are days, especially toward the end of the month, we struggle to pay the bills and grocery shop.

“When you told me you all [grad students] take care of each other, I wanted to take micro actions to help,” A said. She showed us that she listened. And although she cannot directly increase our paycheck by a few hundred dollars, the food helps. And it’s just really nice.

Last December I wrote an article for The Guardian on the US graduate student loan crisis. Many people chimed in, explaining I was not alone. On the fourth floor of our building, our department has a food pantry. It’s free. Most of us supply items up there ourselves, including feminine hygiene products and coffee, as well as dry goods, soda, and more. But breakfast on Tuesdays and Thursdays has been a delight.

“A” is the kind of role-model I really appreciate in a graduate degree. She reminds me: we may not be able to change the entire system in a day (or a semester) but small actions spread roots to form blooming results.