For as long as I can remember of my childhood, spring used to be the most exciting time of the year. This is because spring to me also meant new academic beginnings. The next grade. The smell of new books and notebooks. Baba painstakingly covering each one of them with brown paper and then writing my name and class in all of them with his beautiful handwriting. A new grade meant a new class teacher, new subject teachers, a new classroom, a new seating nook, and experiencing all the newness of the world with old (and some new) friends. There used to be a vibrant energy about week one, everyone wearing new school uniforms and looking ready to take over the world. And then, there would be new things to learn. New chapters, new knowledge, and new ways of making sense of the world. I used to be most excited about my math and science classes. Through those, I made sense of my world, fueled my imagination, met people in textbooks who inspired me, and nurtured my dreams (I had plenty, one of them was being an astronaut). My textbooks opened the doors to new and exciting worlds that existed mostly in my imagination, but were very real for me.
You can tell that I am a lifelong academic, and in a way, I am so glad that I never left school (rather, school never left me). For that is the only life that I have mostly known. This week has seen one more round of excitement, with the new academic year beginning. It might not involve smelling new textbooks this time, but there will be other things new. I am teaching a new online course, and this one is way outside my comfort zone. I have neither developed, nor taught this course before. The first semester, I was so scared of teaching that every week after class I would go and check if someone had dropped out. This time, twenty-five odd students will be spending their time and energy learning with me, and I am excited about facilitating their learning and leading this class.
I am also excited about starting a brand new research study I recently got funding for. I will be presenting at a key conference in Boston soon, and I am looking forward to a restaurant that serves Bengali food in Boston. I am also excited about kicking out those new papers and proposals that I have worked over this summer. You can tell that I never really got over my love for school. I hope that you are as excited about school (if you are in one) or about anything you are pursuing right now.
Cheers to new beginnings, learning and exploring new things, making sense of the world we created around us, and to a brand new academic year.