Thursday, May 29, 2008

The best promotional material possible

I long ago figured out that the best way to spread word about my classes isn't fliers or listings, though those work sometimes too. The means that turn out the best results (sorry for such business-y language) are word to mouth, testimonies, friends telling friends, emailing the both of us at once; friends seeing friends change over time.

Then, there are the "closing exercises," like this week's, which are comprised of people's responses to each other, reflections over the course of the class (9 weeks) and gratitude. I like to think of these as my "exit surveys". : )

Some of my favorite quotes/ideas from this week (with 35 students I didn't fit it all in!):

-A woman talked about how the classes are a good place to be reminded that we all want to be good human beings. In another class, another woman was confounded to hear this - "You mean not everyone knows that?" "No. I said. Not all the time. It's hard to remember that when fighting with someone, for instance." The same woman also pointed out that no one there is seeking 401k's from the class, and I joked that, quite obviously, neither am I!

-One woman said the best compliment about me I think I've heard in a long time - so subtle and side entrance-y, but true: "They say wisdom comes with age, and I certainly hope that that is true. But the fact is that wisdom doesn't always wait for age"

-Many people spoke of the joy of sharing silence, the role of witnessing for others and how that has helped them to witness for themselves more. My joy at hearing this, this is the merit I dedicate at the end of the class, is incomparable.

-The idea of churning/stirring and how that can drive one to write, but writing during peace is significant, too. One woman spoke of how the class is like a buoy for her - she can dive down into dark places, but knows that something will be there once a week to pull her back up for air. Before, she said, she would stay down there far too long, submerged in emotions.

-We continued to talk a lot this week about what one person called the "moving shapelessness of the unknown, turned into a human form" - the larger creative universe/force out there, far more creative than we are, that we all channel together.

- One woman spoke to how the class encouraged "outside the box thinking" and how she enjoyed that "one need not fit in, outside of the box."

-"Positive feedback just seems to bubble out of me, here"

-"Everything sounds like a mantra to me, lately"

-"As usual, I am thinking 'What kind of fucking assignment is this?'" from one student who never resists telling the truth, much to my happiness and joy.

-A student mentioned a friend who was so interested in becoming a novelist that she took a creative writing class in college and got a "D". She left the class and never wrote again. In response, this person wrote: "maybe more would write if we didn't take it so seriously."

-"Writing is no longer a punishment, but a reward"

-"This doesn't fit into Dr. Spock descriptions of growth, but is necessary none the less."

-"Samsara on a sandwich" - how it feels to gossip, knowing that it does no good...

And so many more...thank you, my students, who are, after all, my teachers, too!

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