15 December 2008

It's Greek to Me!

I got an e-mail a few weeks ago from a professor at my Alma Mater inviting me to send a letter for another professor's retirement party. It was actually sent to an old e-mail address that I rarely check, so I didn't get the message until after the party, but here is what I would have written to Dr. Farthing (I should mention that I was quite the little straight A perfectionist in college...well, life):

Dear Dr. Farthing,
Thank you for being an interesting, eccentric, thoughtful, kind, and intelligent teacher. Your classes made me stop and think, and I enjoyed every one of them.

But the thing I most want to thank you for is my experience in Koine Greek. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with Koine Greek, this is New Testament or "Common" Greek, somewhat looked down upon by my friends who took Classical Greek or "Snobby" Greek as I prefer to call it). The class was a bit awkward for me at the time as it was just me and 3 other guys, one of whom I had dated (and broken up with) the year before (we set our schedules before I broke up with him, and we were both too stubborn to give up the class that was only offered every other year). I enjoyed the first trimester, and I did pretty well memorizing letters, basic words, and trying to talk you into including pronounciation of a dead language as a section of the final. And you almost went along with it because you indeed liked my pronounciation. But you fell for the protestations of the boys who sounded like they were coughing up cheeseburgers when they read the text aloud.

I'm sure that you remember your grading system as I doubt it has changed since that class. We could take the final as many times as we liked until we got the grade we wanted. That first trimester, I took the final and missed a few vocab questions the first time around. I went back to my dorm and reviewed. I walked away with an A the next day.

The second trimester kicked my heiny. Apparently, word order meant nothing to the New Testament Greeks. Ex and I were past the "civil" stage and on to the "snarky" stage (culminating a few years later when we ran into each other at a friend's wedding, and he called me a "punk"). I did not enjoy that trimester to say the least.

When I went in to take the final, I was the last one to leave (which is not usual for me). The other 2 guys gave me pats on the back as they left as if to say, "There, there, little greek-iot". You gave me a B-. A mercy B-. I was determined. I went back to my dorm and reviewed. When I came back the next day, I got a B. I was still determined. I went back to my dorm and reviewed. When I came back the next day, I got another B. And you said something to me that forever changed the way I look at a lot of things. You said, "Karen, in Greek, I think you're just a B student." You asked me not to take the Final again. I cried my eyes out.

The final trimester, I memorized the first chapter of I John in Greek and loved it. I went in to the Final, and when I walked into your office, you said, "a solid B performance". I didn't even bother sitting down to go over the test. I said, "See ya next fall!" and walked out smiling.

I wish I could tell you how many times I've looked at myself in the mirror since that day and said, "Karen, in ________, I think you're just a B student." And I can't tell you how happy that makes me.


P.S. I still think you should have included a pronounciation section on the Final. Those boys had no scope of the imagination.

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