The Best Education

As much as I LOVE READING, reading books (cover-to-cover) alone is NOT the best education. I still remember overhearing someone calling a professor who read a lot, an educated fool. I was a kid at the time, so the phrase jarred me. From my small window, I thought school, and at the college level even more so, was the crème de loire of education. It took a minute, something like many years later, to understand that this professor who seemed a little offbeat… you know… couldn’t boil an egg or figure out how to sew a button on her blouse, was likely this way due to her lack of diversified education.

True Story. Also some time ago… (mid 90’s), I wrote a college paper on diversity for an Ethnology class assignment. After living in many different parts of the country, in addition to living overseas and visiting many other states…and countries, my motivation was fairly high about enlightening the instructor (as I had been enlightened when I first left my little corner of the globe) about the differences I found right here in America among black American culture.

Honestly, my encounters with people became so great, and so different from where I had come that I started finding it very hard to lump people together solely based on skin color. In general, America has one culture, however, for someone who spent her formative years attending schools where the student population was 99.98% black, and lived in a city where going more than 3 blocks in any direction was likened to being in another world, it came easy to write about the culture shock(s) I experienced living in different parts of the country. The dialects spoken were definitely unique. I just loved what I called that (Dallas) Texan drawl, which was different from other states, such as Mississippi and Louisiana…and New York and Boston!

And the food! Oh, my goodness – The Food! The cuisine varied from state to state, country to country. Every place seemed to have its staple dish. I love my Philly cheesesteaks and hoagies and soft pretzels, but man-o-man, this one girl from New Orleans (Nawlins’) made some… I think… Cajun chitterlings (or chittlins’ to some) that tasted like nothing I have ever eaten before… or since! I tried to get the recipe, but she told me it was a family secret.

Of course that's the small stuff, even if at the time it was a great awakening given the Internet was nothing like it is today. The big stuff came when I got to switching careers, working for corporations where I came to understand such terms as 'corporate culture' on a level that expanded my respect for diversity. However, without going too deep into everything turning my head left and right, my education initially was more coincidental than intentional. I never expected to have what I always believed and thought I knew, to be challenged and corrected so profoundly. To express the least, it was a humbling experience.

I point this out for two reasons: One, I would love to credit the source that led me to read ‘Too Much Seoul Soul’ by Cindy Wilson (thoughts here). And two, the best education is learning from a diversity of experiences.