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my students are highly motivated. Ranging in age from our guts, our hearts, our loins, writing poetfrom their late teens to their forties, most of them ry, songs, essays or mere snippets of thoughts— have experienced disruptions and turmoil in the which in my case, Susie reminds me, were deliverpast and still face significant obstacles in the presed on odd scraps of paper. Ah, youth. ent. My students include women who graduated Just recently, John and I emailed some middlefrom high school despite getting pregnant and aged reflections on life, relationships, disappointwho must study around an active toddler; former ments and joys. He called me brave for coming drug dealers and gang bangers who still live in out that fall. In fact, I didn’t have a choice. More close proximity to their past associates; and immithan I understood at the time, it was the equivagrants, some of whom find our streets and citizens lent of confessing I have curly hair. Yet, he is calm in comparison to their countries, who must correct, unfortunately, that it required bravery acclimate to new environs and language. to admit that I was different both from what I Just as Bill acknowledges that students from was raised to be and from the socially-accepted around the globe are the greatest gift to COA, I norm. I had to go through a process beginning would argue that these students of with meeting other gay men and mine would equally be a gift if lesbians; becoming politically “I seek to find the commonCOA could come up with the aware of the feminist and gay alities and embrace the resources it needs to bring them liberation movements; and differences in all of our in. To me, they are the future. They exploring sexual identity and are the ones that will keep me safe behavior both intellectually and, stories. I, too, long for the or, if ignored, put me in danger. I as I matured, physically. While I day when someone leaps approach each new group with remembered distinctly the way the same idea: Any one of them, in my best friend in high school’s up to draw a big circle twenty or more years, could be hair flowed when she shook her around everything, and president, or, if foreign-born, a head, my self-control kept that member of the Cabinet. I am image from oozing into desire. truly includes us all.” teaching them the English they That fall, though, permission was ~ Andrea Lepcio ’79 will need not only to succeed in in the air and my mind finally let their chosen profession, but to the rest of me go. There was a make the world they see fit. I am teaching them girl, see (there’s always a girl), and finally the time how to speak and write while at the same time celwas right. Sometime later, November or so, I was ebrating the brilliance of their native tongues, sitting writing in my journal in the lounge—or whether hip hop, Latin or otherwise inflected. I whatever we called it—and suddenly I knew, deep tell them they, and the artists they gravitate to, are down, that I was a lesbian. It was no longer an idea, making up words as needed in the same way that it was my reality. Shakespeare and poets of every era must to tell I must, therefore, take exception to Bill’s categotheir truth. Speaking of heteroglossia—which I rization: “The world broke into locked subgroups had to look up—one of my students said, “We’re barred from comprehending each other by their teaching you our English.” separate ‘discourses’.” I appreciate his later clariWhen I am in the classroom, I seek to actively fication: “We’ve learned from postmodernism the make room for my students’ stories just as Susie importance of the marginal and a skepticism of did for me in those early days. I embrace Bill’s mere dominance posing as the truth.” Again, I notion that “differences of birth” ought not keep didn’t learn this from postmodernism, I learned it us apart. I agree that those wishing to destroy the from the dialectic that is the daily reality of anyone other have committed some of the worst crimes who is different from the majority. of history. Living together denying difference is One of the great joys of living in New York City equally destructive. My training as a human ecolois the lack of majority. We are all others, as well as gist taught me to recognize difference not as New Yorkers. I teach English at Katherine Gibbs, a unbridgeable, but as distinct, valid, beautiful, career-oriented associate degree college where 42 | COA

Profile for College of the Atlantic

COA Magazine: Vol 1. No 1. Winter 2005  

COA Magazine: Vol 1. No 1. Winter 2005