Sophomore Speaks: Life experiences learned in class

The thrilling stories of a man’s life in the Armed Forces, a behind-the-scenes look at Children of Terror and the dangerous daily life of a retired judge are tales I did not expect to hear in my Feature Writing class, but I’m glad that I did.
Most students don’t really know what to expect the first day of class. Some students hope the teacher is laid back, that there will be minimal work and that they can get an easy A. Yet there are others who look forward to what they can learn from the courses they take.
When I first entered my Feature Writing class, I was only expecting to write a lot. I didn’t count on getting the opportunity to listen to incredible stories that have had a big impact on my way of thinking. Throughout the semester, Professor Rod Hirsch invited people to share compelling life stories to the class, and students were also given the opportunity to interview them.
The first speakers Hirsch asked to come to the class were a member of the Armed Forces, Sergeant Kyle Luthman and his wife Brielle. I’ve always known about members in the Armed Forces with significant others and assumed the relationships were not easy to maintain. However, I never thought I would get the chance to hear from people who experienced them firsthand in my own classroom.
The couple told us about the difficulties they have being in a relationship while Kyle is deployed. A story like theirs made me really appreciate the people I have in my life.  I don’t think it would be easy being away from the ones I love, and I can’t imagine how they managed for months at a time.
The second speaker was Dr. Shawn Kildea, a professor at Rider, who spoke to our class about two Holocaust survivors featured in Children of Terror — a documentary he worked on. Although we went to the screening of the film, Kildea took the time to tell us more about the women involved in it, Inge Auerbacher and Bozenna Urbanowicz. He told us that even after all the hardships they went through, Auerbacher and Urbanowicz stayed positive. Hearing about the survivors’ attitudes toward life taught me that I shouldn’t always let little things bother me when life throws me a curve ball.
I’ve heard some incredible stories  from a class that I thought would be all about writing. By going into your classes with a positive attitude, you will be surprised by what you can get out of them. Start by erasing the assumptions you may have about a class and experience it with an open mind.
-Shannon Larcara
Sophomore journalism major

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