This week is proving to be a difficult one. Not simply physically demanding (it is VERY hard to go to work when the sun is out, you know it's going to be a beautiful day AND you have to spend it all indoors) but emotionally as well.
It started with graduation this past Sunday. As I listened to their names be called and watched "my graduates" walk across the stage to receive their diplomas, I was filled with a strange sense of pride. They were students I knew, I had talked with about school, both undergrad and graduate level. Study abroad, travel. Books and assignments. The value of starting a paper on time, understanding how a paper can be "basically done" days before it is due and the familiarity of starting a paper the night before the due date. I had hugged these students, cried with them, encouraged them, listened to them rant and blow off steam. These were my students and I was proud of them.
I looked over the crowd after the ceremony and realized that I could have helped some of them, was sure I helped some of them pass senior year. The idea struck me as odd and strange. For a moment, they all felt like mine. But as I continued to consider this thought, I knew they wouldn't see it that way. I was simply the librarian (ok, intern) who helped them get started, find a book, do the research, fix citations. The little things that got them their A. But you know? I don't mind. Not one bit.
Being at that graduation reminded me so much of my own. I didn't mention much on this blog last year about it--it was such a blur! It was interesting to see how similar and dissimilar they were. For one, Gettysburg holds graduation outside - rain or shine. I like that. Graduation happens on the green between Musselman Library and Pennsylvania Hall. The best seats are the cheap seats: sitting or standing on the steps of the library. One more reason to love Musselman! Another tradition they have is something they call the Stole of Gratitude. It is a simple blue stole with "Class of 2011" printed on it and all the graduates wear one for the ceremony. One of the last things they are charged with before being dismissed is to carry on the tradition of the college by gifting their stole to the person --faculty, staff, parent, friend, mentor -- who inspired them, supported them, loved them, encouraged them, and pushed them to do their best at Gettysburg College. This small token spoke to my heart (and reminds me a little of foot washing. Anyone else??). It whispered to me, "Who would you give your stole of gratitude to?" And honestly? There isn't one person I could give it to without offending many. Names and faces come to mind; where one springs up, three take its place. I was astonished when I realized just how many people it takes to keep me encouraged, to keep me sane.
Astonished and humbled.