It is my first time participating in #DigiWriMo, Digital Writing Month, and the first assignment is a provocative one:
What if we could write a CV that was based not on degrees and position and peer-reviewed publications, but on what we think is most important about who we are and what we are genuinely most proud to have accomplished?
Doing this activity made me realize the extent to which I value process over product, in myself as well as in others.
A colleague of mine told me, “Your online persona seems to me to be identical to your real-life persona and that is truly exceptional these days. I can’t think of anyone else quite like that. So you must be living pretty darn authentically.” I experience this deep connection between my teaching, my parenting, my private and professional commitments. It is why my son’s love of gaming sent me researching the scholarship of video games and bringing game elements into my teaching, and why I have written publicly about my marriage as a Jew who married into a German family, and about arguing with my German father-in-law about Israel.
The work of Emmanuel Levinas, as well as that of Martin Buber, has helped me to articulate the importance of presence, which has come to shape my engagement with the digital. I genuinely like people and am interested in them, and bring this quiet presence (sometimes talking presence!) to my teaching and presentations, my friendships, my collegial relationships.
Much of my life’s work has been about bringing people together over difficult conversations — teaching courses on/of interfaith dialogue, engaging in challenging conversations at the Weinstein Holocaust Symposium, which has brought together an international, interfaith group of approximately 36 Holocaust scholars and educators biennially since 1996. I think this is why I have been asked to take over co-stewardship of the symposium in 2016, after twenty years of participation. My passion is always for the group, the ideals, and the experiences we share. It is also what lets students speak openly in my class, because I protect the space, experience, and relationships, rather than particular ideas.
My son had such a terrible middle school experience that we took him out of school, without any alternative. He was at home for a year and a half, mostly playing video games, which required a huge amount of courage and trust on my part, and on part of my husband — Trust that learning can happen anywhere, that I knew my son, that stepping boldly outside of convention could reap great rewards. It is what I am proudest of, as a teacher, a parent, and a person . . . and in this case, it worked out, and our courage was rewarded. I know it isn’t always.