On The Couch With Arethusa- Special Edition
Arethusa has a blog we like, a lot, for many reasons. It is fresh and refreshing, unpredictable and thoughful, all at once. On it can be found movie reviews, book reviews and eclectic music that spans all genres (when you play David Soul's (of Starsky and Hutch fame) ''Don't Give Up On Us," you earn the title 'eclectic'). More than that, we like Arethusa, a lot. She is, by any standard of measurement, an exceptional young woman (we would be less than honest if we didn't admit that we hoped HRH would turn out like her. We are convinced she is NG, redux).
As you know, as of late, we have been talking about education and morals . Arethusa has an interesting take on these matters- she was home schooled. She is an accomplished student, musician and dancer. She has read- and studied the classics, and it shows. Shw opines in a manner and style well beyond her years. We are not exaggerating when we say she is someone special. To fully understand where she comes from and where she is, we urge you to read her series of posts on being home-schooled. There are four posts- each a worthy and important read- they add greatly to the discussion on education. They are, Home Schooling: The Years of Study, Socialisation, Entering the "System" and Concluding Thoughts. If you are a home schooling parent, or are thinking of becoming one, these posts are a must read.
We know we have made her uncomfortable- Arethusa seems happiest in the middle of the pack, but in reality, we are only describing what is evident to all.
Do you 'fit in'? You're young, but unlike most people your age, you have achieved a level of maturity. How does that affect your relationships with your peers?
I've never been the "popular" girl but I've had to become better at adapting to different group dynamics because of my service club work. A grooming & etiquette program I was once enrolled in (don't ask), has also allowed me to be more comfortable with persons who are simply on different wavelengths and try to find some sort of common ground. (And get them around to my way of thinking.) I've never had a problem making friends among my batch-mates, but I do find that a majority of them share a similar background that I do not. Most of them have at least one or two jobs while attending university, are serious about their school work and were always involved in community or school activities of one prominent sort or another. Many find my affinity odd as, typically, someone like me should be hobnobbing with the socialite crowd. Then again I am in a sorority.
How much of that do you attribute to your home schooling?
I attribute a lot of it to home schooling, not just because of all the things I was involved with outside the home to compensate, but for toughening me up. :) However I think it was just my particular trial of fire; my other friends all had their own kind that led us our current place in life.
You have more than a passing knowledge in the classics, literary and artistic-something less common today. How has that influenced you?
It's what made stick with the Anglican church for as long as I did and what makes the services enjoyable (when I accompany my mother to them at home). The classical music and poetry of the hymns and the liturgy, and the history self-evident in the Eucharist is what makes it enjoyable for me. It's also made more interested in history, and how people viewed things then. Outside of that I cannot say. I never thought about it much.
What expectations do you have from your university education? Are those expectations being met?
I expected university to be the place where I'd fall in love with learning again. The courses would be satisfyingly varied, almost foreign to me in terms of the intellectual challenge, and I'd sit and talk with professors and classmates about all sorts of deliciously juicy topics. Basically I could comfortably be a nerd without the petty high school drama.
This has been met to varying degrees. More often than not one doesn't have the luxury of course choices: once you've picked your major and specialisation the school only provides enough courses to fulfil that. Home schooling has spoiled me in that respect. Professors are not always as available as I would like, often shuttling me off to various TA's. However the quality of the courses is consistently high in most cases. Thankfully there is usually more wriggle room when picking the other courses needed to fulfil an Arts Degree. I am also quite comfortable in being nerdy as it is that kind of university.
How would you improve your education, if 2 hours with the school provost would lead to the school adopting your suggestions?
i) I would like more attention and money spent on and promoting the Arts at school. At the moment the Sciences/Math have a larger presence on-campus despite the fact that the Arts departments have significantly more students. They have a stronger alumni and stronger administrative support, from heads of dept. to academic advisers.
ii) Improved relations between admin and student body. I won't go into any details but through my time and own experience here, it often seems as if the admin prefers to keep its distance and rule from on high. They're not as responsive as they could be to students and seem primarily concerned with maintaining their illustrious rankings. At the same time the student association needs to appear more reasonable and less eager to jump at the gun.
iii) Gawd, we need a better student newspaper but that's really our problem. It's one of the things I wish I had tried to help with. I'd ask him for helpful tips at the least.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I should be finishing up a joint-degree program at some respectable university where I hope to be leaving with a J.D. in Corporate law and a Masters in Poli Sci. That's the plan at any rate. I have one more year of undergrad left, and after that I'm taking a break from school to brush up on my French and Spanish in Europe.
In 10 years?
I really can't say, I haven't looked that far ahead. I hope to be happy or at least content with the present lot in life, working with a small to mid-size law firm perhaps and still actively involved with community service work.
What do you want to see of yourself?
I'd definitely like to see concrete results from my community service work. I've mostly abandoned the idea that I need to see big guaranteed results of whatever team effort I've participated in. Sometimes, probably most of the time, one's efforts won't be felt outside of a small community that no one else cares about.
What do you hope never to see of yourself?
Indulgent self-pity, the complete loss of my idealism, penuriousness and lack of regard for family.
Without invoking religion per se, describe your faith. Do you believe in God? Do you want to believe in God?
At this point in time, I don't have a faith. I did a post on my blog where I concisely conveyed my gradual disenchantment with Christianity (sorry had to invoke it), personally speaking. I never had a strong faith to begin with-I just believed what I was told-and when I began to question things the answers I got weren't satisfactory. So presently I don't believe in God and I'm not sure that I want to.
Which three people most heavily influenced you?
My Mother - She had me at a young age and with the supportive network of close family members, has gone to significant lengths of self-improvement in order to be the best Mother she could be for me. She is one of the kindest and fairest persons you could ever be lucky enough to meet and a very loyal person. She is also quite responsible, incredibly intelligent, productive and dedicated. We've had our differences through the years but I've never felt that she doesn't love me. Not once. I'm trying to reflect her influence in my life, although it's a bit difficult as my temper is more easily provoked.
My Aunt D. - She is my second mother, the one who took care of me when my mother couldn't be there. She combed my hair and made my meals more often than not (she's a much better cook than Mom) and tutored me on some subjects right up until I left for Senior School. To me she is the quintessential home-maker, all warmth and comfort, and quite self-less to sometimes vexing degrees IMO. Still she is dependable and resourceful to a fault and she has shown me through her own actions, how satisfactory and...well GOOD serving others can be.
Mrs. B (Grade 11 & 12 English teacher) - Mrs. B is the teacher who convinced me that I wanted to be a teacher at some point in my life. Senior School for me had been less than what I had hoped, and the intimate, dynamic, mutually rewarding give-and-take relationship between teacher and student had mostly disappeared for me. This was an expensive and well-respected prep school but for me that didn't matter if I didn't feel as if the teachers loved the subject, loved imparting it and looved it when a student was fully engaged. Mrs. B showed me with her work ethic, her enthusiasm and her utter dedication and care to and for her students that teaching is, in many ways, a higher calling. I still keep in contact with her.
Thinking of home, who do you miss most?
My family of course: mother, aunt, cousins and grandfather! I would say my close friends as well, but only one of them attends school there now, we've all moved out. One is studying in India, another doing a year in Colombia (she wants to be a Spanish teacher), two in the USA (Cornell & UPENN) and one in U of Toronto.