For Their Assistance
This essay is about the act of paying tribute. The Chinese civilization has had a long tradition of paying tribute. This system included the emperors down to the lowly peasants. In fact, Confucius' filial piety has at its basis paying tribute to the person above you. Children are to pay tribute to their parents, the parents are to pay tribute to the authorities above them, and those authorities are to pay tribute to the emperor. Tributes are not the same as gifts. Gift, , is something that a person can give another. However, in China, paying tribute, 貢, is the basis of their civilization. Paying tribute is how a society is to function properly.
This form of paying tribute is the basis of this essay. I am writing about paying tribute to those that have helped me in my professional journey in life. I have always been appreciative in the past, but dance with death twice, and my appreciation now is on steroids.
Randy Pausch said, "Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other." Interestingly, he said that as he was dancing with death from pancreatic cancer. Neither he nor I would have made that comment as strongly if we had not done the dance.
Therefore, allow me to begin paying homage to Steve Volkening. I reported to Steve while teaching humanities classes at the University of St. Francis.
We worked together for a decade. He allowed me to write an entire course that I taught in Tibet and China for the university. I selected the text, scheduled the assignments, produced my own PowerPoint, and planned the itinerary for our trip. Steve accompanied the students and me on our educational journey. If you go to Travel and scroll down to China and Tibet 2005, you will find three dozen folders containing photos of that trip.
Steve put a great deal of trust in me. He never questioned either my interest in teaching or my ability to do so. That trust level carried over to dealing with students that I taught during more than ten years. On occasion, a few students either would not turn in assignments on time or plagiarized term papers. Steve never asked for documentation from me when a student would complain to him about a grade they had received for an assignment.
One time, a student was so defiant that the student hadn't plagiarized, I sent Steve a copy of the paper that I had returned to the student. He wrote to the student that the paper was almost completely copied and without footnoting at all. Steve could trust me as I could trust him.
As a result of Steve's faith in me as an adjunct professor and my dedication to teaching, he presented me with the Excellence in Adjunct Teaching Award. Having paid tribute to Steve before personally, I am now telling the world.
The next person to whom I have paid tribute is Dr. Anne Figus, who is now the Assistant Provost at Lewis University. Several years ago, when Anne was Dean of Academic Affairs at DeVry University, she was my dean for nearly a decade.
Whenever I had a problem with a student, I would go to her office and explain the situation. On one occasion, I wanted her help with one of my students who had plagiarized his term paper. I had spoken with the student about his paper. As it turned out, he didn't understand plagiarism enough for me to honestly give him an F. When he was in high school, no one taught him how to write a paper, let alone how to footnote a research paper.
I pleaded my case with Anne. I did not think that morally I could fail the student but did not know the school's guidelines concerning this particular type of situation. Anne was flexible but spelled out what she expected from the student. She had a staff member set up a tutorial program for the student. A part of Anne's plan was that I had to return the rewritten paper to Anne after his tutoring had been completed.
Our relationship was a two-way street. Being a visiting professor, I had to attend the staff meetings with the fulltime professors. Since I was not fulltime, I would sit in the back of the room and observe the interaction between professors and Anne. The other professor's attitudes and treatment of her dismayed me. After the meeting, I stayed around after the other professors had left. Anne said, "Well...?" She knew that I wanted to talk to her about my reaction to some of the staff. In addition, I shared with her some ideas about handling future meetings.
Anne, like Steve, knew how I felt about her as a dean and a person. However, thanks to Randy Pausch, another educator, my tribute to her is being made to the world in cyberspace.
Dr. Dave Wood is the third person to whom I wish to pay tribute. Dave is the head-of-staff at the First Presbyterian Church in Crown Point, IN. Dave and I have had breakfasts together every several months for the past couple of years. Our breakfasts last a couple of hours, and we discuss nearly any topic that concerns either of us, which is why I call Dave my clone. This is no exaggeration, no one is more like me in thought and drive than Dave. Name a topic, person, movie, theological issue, or political issue, we are on the same wavelength.
About the only thing about which we differ is our knowledge of Windows 10. I got a new computer and was well-versed on Windows 7, but I had several question regarding Windows 10. I was not able to find programs and files that I used in the older version of Microsoft's operating systems. Dave volunteered to show me and answer any of my questions. He was at my office in my home for three hours.
During the first two hours, Dave and I didn't mention Windows 10. However, we discussed some of our parallel interests we have from the movies like Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon to why I had a framed letter on my office wall from President Cory Aquino and Chuck Colson. How many people have letters from Cory Aquino and Chuck Colson next to each other on a wall in their office?
As with Steve and Anne, I would trust my life to Dave. Even though I am not working for either Steve, Anne, or Dave, I have attempted to emulate their treatment of me in my dealings with others. When they read this essay, they will hear again my paying homage to them. This is a tribute to them and not a gift.
Therefore, this essay has been about my paying tribute. However, what about you? What is your modus operandi when it comes to those that have helped you on your journey down your yellow brick road? Unfortunately, there is not an abundance of the Steves, Annes, and Daves in the world. I really feel sorry for those people that are not on your list or mine.
Those that are missing members on our lists are either lazy or they desire control, power, money, and prestige. You and I cannot change them, but we can pay tribute to those in our lives from whom we have benefitted. By doing so, you are an example to your friends and family. It is a living legacy for them.
Having done the dance, I understand paying tribute to my benefactors or as Randy Pausch said, "Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other."
Visit the Burma Independence page to read more about this topic.
Visit the The Last Lecture page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Dancing with Death page to read more about this topic.
Visit The Mentors and Me page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Confucius Said page to read more about this topic.