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I love the relationship between students and faculty at Bethel.
I’m particularly conscious of it during the holiday/end-of-semester season, because that’s when everybody pulls out the stops. With such a small student population, teachers can more easily get to know each of their students. At Bethel, most students are on first name basis with their teachers. They are friends on Facebook and discuss favorite hobbies/music/whatever outside of the classroom. Even more unique is the fact that, more often than not, students are invited to their teachers’ houses at some point in the semester.
Over four days, I will have been to four of my professors’ houses. Dwight Krehbiel, one of the psychology professors, invited those of us who had been experimenters for his National Science Foundation grant to his house. A number of us remarked how nice it was to be, not only off campus, but in a house, where homemade food was made and personal knick knacks have a place to spread out and be enjoyed.
Saturday morning, choir members gathered at our director’s house for a wonderfully leisurely breakfast after the exciting Christmas Gala events the night before.
Sunday afternoon, two of my professors invited me to their house, one for the college newspaper, and one for psychology majors. Unfortunately, they both had parties at the same time. Another person might wish that they’d spread the invitations more evenly over the semester, but while that would be nice, I’m not going to bite the hand that feeds me homemade food.
Teachers show their generosity to students during events on campus too. At Christmas Gala, all of the hosting positions are filled by faculty. They wait on the students during dinner; they run coat check. They even carol to us while we eat. Later that evening, the President and his wife host a reception at their house.
During Thanksgiving, members of the faculty baked pies for students that we enjoyed during study breaks.
Although it’s harder for the students to return the material favors (we are poor and in-debt, after all), we have our own ways to return the generosity. One of my favorites is during Halloween when the dorms host trick-or-treat-off-the-street. Children from the community can come trick-or-treat from college students, and a lot of professors come by their students’ rooms with their kids.
I think the relationship that students and faculty share on campus help nurture a learning environment where everyone takes turns being teacher and learner.
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