By Inspiring Ourselves, We Inspire Others: An Ode to Teachers

During my past life as an English major, I was blessed with the gift of many incredible, impactful teachers. One course during my senior year of college, however, took the proverbial cake.

Earlier that year, I had read an extraordinary book by an extraordinary writer. I loved the novel, but felt that my independent reading had left it without enough analysis or thought. Dr. Lisa Sewell and Mr. Alan Drew changed that when they introduced the novel as one of our modern fiction studies in their two-chaired course, Literary Festival.

Since then, I have passed out copies to friends and family members in hopes that they will be touched by the literary beauty that I found in McCann’s brilliant work. In spite of continuous talk of the novel, I never thought to thank my teachers for their meaningful insight. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon a TED Talk by Philippe Petit (a character by way of allegory), that I knew I had to do something.

You may find my initial e-mail below. And, as always, thank you for reading. (FYI: Both professors have since responded with kind, appreciative words that have made starting this website a bit easier)

Dear Dr. Sewell and Mr. Drew,
I hope this note finds you both well. It’s hard to believe that I was a student in your Literary Festival course more than a year ago… how quickly time seems to disappear!
I came across this TED Talk by Philippe Petit, and I was instantly reminded of our collective analysis of Colum McCann’s “Let the Great World Spin.” Our time spent with that novel was a highlight for me that semester, and it’s clearly made a lasting impression. If you’re still teaching the book (or even if you’re not), I thought you both might enjoy Mr. Petit’s quirky lecture:
As an aside, I’ve spent more than a year in the “working world” since graduating in 2011, and I often reflect upon my time at Villanova and, more specifically, my experience in the Literary Festival course. It was, by far, one of the most rewarding classes of my collegiate career as an English Major, and I never truly thanked either of you for your time, effort, guidance and instruction. To be frank, I think that this error stemmed from my fear of coming off as a “brown noser,” but I hope that it still resonnates with both of you when I say (or write) that I truly appreciate your effort and instruction. You both taught me a lot that semester, and you reaffirmed my love of fiction, writing and, above all, learning.
In the lecture that I link to above, Mr. Petit says, “by inspiring ourselves, we inspire others.” Even if you don’t hear it from your students often, you inspire people on a daily basis. For this, I am very grateful . (And envious).
Again, thank you both.
All my best,

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