A Definition of Academia

I have always known I wanted to teach. Teaching for me is not a job. It is a lifestyle. It is a commitment, a relationship that provides security, love, and support. When I teach, I give and receive knowledge, and knowledge, for me at least, translates into love. There is an endless pursuit of education, of eye-openers, of moments where something finally clicks. And then you start all over again. A new batch of students. A new course. A new approach. And with each fresh start, the passion is reignited, and we get back into the game. So here’s to a new semester.

Of course, teaching is never just about what degree you have. There are tons of academics who have neglected their basic role in the Humanities – reminding people how to be humane. The Humanities: all about respecting the other, wanting to learn from the other’s perspective, and being open to everything. It’s all about equality, it’s not a hierarchy, and I sometimes wish academics would admit that. It’s not about instilling inferiority complexes, it’s not about intimidation, and it’s not about power. Teaching, if anything, is all about modesty. It’s about being able to excel at maintaining a balance between lecturing and listening, dictating and receiving.  For me, mostly, it’s about human interaction.

Only a few teachers and academics have helped me view teaching as an art. Those remained with me forever, and I continue to ask myself how they would do it so naturally. Sometimes, when I am stuck with a particular theory, or a new course I am afraid to approach, I ask myself, how would Dr. Muzaffar or Dr. Al-Nakib handle it? I constantly shift between being a student and an academic, re-adjusting my mindset accordingly. Dr. Muzaffar taught me how to be a critical thinker, open to receiving criticism from others, and accepting that it’s okay when you really don’t know what you’re doing. And, as an undergraduate who struggled with an invisible disability, Dr. Al-Nakib urged me to keep fighting, to rely on myself, and she accommodated my disability – which, at the time, I only revealed to her.

Academia for me is about a desire to stay alive and functional. It almost got taken away from me, at a very young age. Perhaps that is why I hold on to it. I find value in education and in literature. I start teaching a new group of undergraduates soon, and as always, I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

And that’s all for now.

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