Thursday, June 7, 2012

Student testimonial

It's not often that teachers get to hear about how they have influenced their students. Even more rare is feedback on workshops or short presentations. Today I receieved a lovely email from someone who was in a workshop I offered over a year ago based on my "Voluntary Simplicity and Anti-consumerism" course. That class was essentially an introduction to the anti-consumption strands in American culture that have co-existed with materialism from the very beginning. It was not a how-to course in voluntary simplicity; it was part history and part cultural studies. But as nearly always with the material I teach, whether gender or consumption related, the discussion often veered to personal experiences and choices. This is what my student wrote:

It changed my life.

I had a series of very hard conversations with my loved ones about how I felt my family’s consumption patterns were actually lowering our quality of life. After a year of research and planning, we purged about 90 percent of our possessions (including almost my entire personal library) in order to move from a 3 br house with full finished basement to a 2 br apartment. The book donations alone were roughly 50 boxes. I feel almost deliriously unburdened.

Sometimes I berate myself for not being more of an activist, not being on the front lines. But working behind the scenes is not the same as standing on the sidelines, is it?

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