I’m not sure about you, but I have had many teachers in my life whom I have admired. And I can honestly say that most of them have, at one point or another, totally let me down.
However, there has been one teacher who has withstood the test of time. She was a professor that I had during my first undergraduate degree. Her name is Dr. Yasmin Shamsie, and she was the first female political scienc teacher that I ever had. It took me three full terms until I finally had the privilege of having a female political science teacher. And I’m glad that it did. At first, I didn’t appreciate the value of her presence in my life, but by the time I graduated from my undergrad I did.
Like I said, I was in my 4th semester before I met Dr. Shamsie (winter term of my second year). It was a first year class, Introduction to International Relations (IR). I had tried to get into it my first year but my time table was full. At first, I didn’t care for her lecturing style. I can’t remember why, but for some reason I was just really put off. I remember after the final exam telling my friends I was glad that her class was over.
The next year, I had signed up for a class on Latin American politics and had already purchased the textbook before I realised that she was the professor for it. But it was a 3rd year lecture and I wanted it to continue on my IR track. I walked in reluctant to my first class. Thankfully two of my other friends were also in that class. We were shocked to see that it was in a conference room. A round table with about 10 chairs around it. We took our seats and I braced myself for a long semester.
But it wasn’t long! I have to admit it was one of my favourite classes of my entire double major program. We explored Latin America during the late 80’s and early 90’s. Which, unknown to me, was full of political curroption and chaos! It was a little traumatizing at first, but in the end it was the best class for opening my eyes to the world around me. A few of the books I still read to this day (The art of poltical murder and Children of Cain). After the first few classes, my opinion of Dr. Shamsie had changed 100%. Since our class was so small, we were able to learn about each other on a more personal level. The class was like a little family.
We learned of her educational background, her early work traveling in Latin America during some of the violence we were learning about. We talked about our families and even got to see pictures of her adorable dog. I grew to admire not only he achievments in the field of political science (especially for a woman) but also as a human being.
From that point forward I took every one of her classes I possbly could. I rearranged my other classes, changed my work schedule, anything that would allow me to learn from her. I consulted with her for other classes, and would even just show up during her office hours with homemade cookies and fresh coffee. I think this is where my cofee addiction started to be quite honest. In my fifth year (I needed one extra semester) I had the hard choice to make: stop at Christmas since I had fulfilled all my requirements for graduating, quit my job and move with my parents, OR stay an extra semster for one class (global governance) since she was teaching it. I decided to keep learning.
That class was awesome. I subletted a room, switched to full time at work and kept learning from this professor. The only problem was that the class was at 8:30am twice a week. Two of the days I had to be at work at 7:30am. I worked it out with my boss that I would come in at 7:30, open the tills and do immediate cash ofice things, go to class, then come back and stay an hour late at work. I was allowed to be out of uniform for that first hour. On days that the running back and forth was too much, I just skipped class. Dr. Shamsie knew my special circumstance and as long as I was present for tests and presentations she didn’t seem to be phased by it. She even picked my final paper topic since I had no idea what to write about (piracy if ya’ll are interested. Like real pirates…on boats…hehe! But its a serious problem *she says as she is saying “aaaarrrrggg matey” in her head*). I ended up with an A in that class.
When the class ended, I even wrote her a note telling her the impact she had on my learning. We kept in touch for a few years, and she wrote a reference letter for me for an interview with a non-profit organization which I was also able to use to get my first teaching job in Korea.
Even though I didn’t end up pursuing a job in the political science realm like I had once intended, I am so thankful to have had such a role model in my life. If you have any interest in Latin American politics, google her to find her research and papers.
January 8 Teacher’s pet Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life,
either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?