I wake in the dark, shower, print up the substitute's schedule. Though not teaching today, I need to be at school at 7:30 to pick up three students. We are attending a different school today, a symposium: The Bystander Dilemma: The Holocaust, War Crimes, and Sexual Assaults.
As we pull into the parking lot of the law school, my daughter calls.
"Hi, it's so good to talk to you!"
She's been on vacation for a week, and I haven't talked to her, even on her birthday.
After a simple pleasant exchange, I ask, "Can I call you back? I'm at a symposium."
"What for?" she asks.
"It's the Bystander Dilemma."
"That was my dissertation!"
Such an important milestone in her life, and I don't remember.
As she fills me in on a study and an experiment she carried out, it's starting to come back. "Oh yes, I remember."
I settle into my seat for the first panel discussion just as she texts me a photo of the title page of her published work: The Effect of Bystander Behavior and Victim Response on Teenage Girls' Perception of Chat Room Cyberbullying.
It all comes back. The years of intense research, the setbacks, continual obstacles, overcoming those obstacles, and ultimately a designation that made her a doctor of psychology. She was dedicated; she worked hard.
As I listen to the experts talk about history, law, philosophy, I am reminded this could be my own daughter addressing a room full of eager learners, like myself who benefit from the experiences of others. Like the US attorney who has served in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Bosnia, who diligently pieces together the puzzles that will help prosecute war criminals; like the reverend who preaches a return to religious vernacular stripped from our community discussions that could bind us with words like covenant; a woman who helped edit and bring to publication, the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer; a law professor who's put in 25 years to fight violence against women.
Because of their hard work, determination, tenacity, I benefit. My students benefit, and together we have just a little more understanding, a little more capacity and desire to change the world.