iving my exams for my Catholicism course has given me a few surprise moments. I came into my first session yesterday with a small package waiting for me and a note that read, "Dear Prof. Novak, Just a token of our appreciation for sticking it out with us this semester. It took a lot of dedication to keep smiling and giving us your all. We all wish you speedy recovering and lots of blessings! Sincerely, Everybody here." And with this was a sort of New Orleans/Loyola dark French cross that will rank among my favorite office decorations in the future. Despite having to recover from obvious injury at the beginning of the semester, I really went out of my way to keep that from disrupting my students' experience, both being honest about it but without trying to distract from the course through my own drama. But I will say that it's cool to have had students appreciate the effort.
Along with good-byes and quiet conversations about summer plans as they turned exams in, I had one student who also bitterly complained that the exam didn't give her time or space to write the vast essays that every question provoked in her head. I could only laugh and agree that one could find a dissertation waiting to be written behind even a multiple choice question, but I couldn't help but be pleased that everything was just making her think
excitedly. Lots of other little discussions: not being able to return home over the summer to Lima, Peru because one student was starting graduate school; another talking about summer back in the San Bernardino Valley and trying to find work while talking the geography of the area with me after discovering that I'd hiked there; another talking of the long journey of coming into a life of ministering to the mentally ill; and another talking about her current and summer work in recording as well as her own hip-hop artistry. What an epically cool semester's worth of people....