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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Are You?

Thanks for the comments on yesterday's post. I know everything that needs to get done this week will get done, and already, between yesterday and today, I've been able to cross quite a bit off my "to do" list, and that's always satisfying and helps me feel a little less overwhelmed.

I don't have much that's exciting today, but as you know, yesterday was my first day of the term, and my students didn't fail in your expectations to have a "weird one or two." Most interesting anecdote? As follows:

After class, students typically stay and speak with me about a variety of concerns or questions, and after my last class, I had a young woman who was standing there with the others and when it was her turn to approach me, she asked simply: "What are you?"

At first, I honestly had no clue what she meant by her question. "What are you?" Was she being practical or existential? With such a perplexing question, I think you'll admire my incredibly astute follow up question: "What?"

She answered: "I mean, what race or ethnicity are you?"

Me: "I'm white."

Her: "Oh, okay." And then she trotted out the door satisfied, apparently, with my response.

Now, here I sit in my office, a full day later, and I am still puzzling over this question. I don't think I've been asked that (except on government forms and job applications), and I have especially never been asked that by a student. I've had students ask a whole rainbow of personal questions, from "How old are you?" to "Are you married?" And I got a whole host of oddball questions and comments when I was visibly pregnant with Norah, but I've never had this one before.

Ahhh, students! They make my life, and job, interesting! "What are you?" Indeed: What am I?

24 comments:

Charbelle said...

OK this is appalling and yet funny!! I helped my mom's department (rec services) at UNCC's recfest day, it was fun to be back on a college campus as students are milling around. Glad you're getting things checked off the to do list!!

TNTcoach Ken said...

Wow, you teachers are truly quick on your feet...... Can't wait to read the students blog... ha

teacherwoman said...

That is hilarious!

Marlene said...

HUH? That is one of the weirdest things I've ever heard of.

Katie A. said...

I agree with Charbelle - appalling but crazy funny!
Maybe I'm just old school, wait, I'm NOT that old, but I always held the utmost respect for my professors and teachers and would have NEVER asked anything like that, let alone personal things either!
Good luck this semester - I hope this isn't par for the course!

Heather said...

That is too weird. I suppose if you responded with "what are you?" you'd be looking at some sort of harassment claim.

James said...

You should make a show "Students Say The Darnedest Things" lol. Use the question she asked as the theme for an essay and see how she responds.

Andrew Opala said...

I'm a Canadian and "race" seems to be a very typical American question. Maybe I have just lived a naive life.

Anyway, great blog, just found you.

I've been running only for 3 months and I'm finding reading back into your old posts to be quite interesting.

Nobel4Lit said...

Very thought-provoking, even if it wasn't intended that was by your student...

JojaJogger said...

I would have come up with the same initial "what?" and then wished later that day that something interesting like "Ferengi" had popped into my head.

Leah B. said...

Wow, that was pretty rude. She should have at least given an explanation or something!

Jamoosh said...

I am a (slight) improvement on neanderthal man.

Jess said...

Haha also not sure why that mattered to your student lol.

Firefly's Running said...

Ohhhhhhkay....wow!

Middle Name Marie said...

Students are always so funny...and they have no boundaries--haha

Lisa said...

odd...

Erin said...

That's a good one especially considering you are there, in the flesh and blood speaking to her. For future classes, come prepared with exotic, off-the-wall answers. Maybe Jerry can create a race for you in his SIMS world or Farmville.

heathermareed said...

I've actually gotten that before - along with many variations of that. If it's someone I think should know the proper way to phrase the question (maybe like a college student as opposed to a first grader) then I act like I don't know what they're talking about until they ask appropriately or I finally point out a suitable way to ask. Ahhh,people are fun.

d.a.r. said...

Huh. That is incredibly bizarre and awkward. I would love to know WHY she wanted to know!

She has guts. Either that or is totally lacking social skills.

Agate Lake Girl said...

Weird indeed!

MCM Mama said...

Bizarre!

Her Name is Rio said...

As a person of mixed ethnicity, I get asked that a lot. But usually not at the first time I meet someone. That is weird. She is apparently working through some issues, or something....

Black Knight said...

What are you? A runner: a special inextinguishable race!

Lily on the Road said...

hmmm, wonder what that was about?