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Wolfville, Nova Scotia

CCEDP Convocation 2004 Valedictory Address

CCEDP Convocation 2004 Valedictory Address

by Chris Campbell

July 30, 2004, Truro, Nova Scotia

I'd like to thank the graduating class of 2004 for choosing me to speak for them on the occasion of graduating from the Community College Education Diploma Program.

What have we learned while we have been part of the Community College Education Diploma Program?

We found out about the Nova Scotia Community College.

We reflected on how we teach, how we do our jobs and how we see the College. (Reflecting was relatively easy for me, because a big part of reflecting is talking about yourself, which I don't seem to have a problem doing).

We learned the difference that language can make. It makes a difference in how people see us and how we see them. Language can intimidate and alienate. We stopped calling the people we help "students" and started calling them "learners."

We learned that we help people to change their lives and not focus on getting marks, but getting a job and a career.

We found out how to change the world one life at a time.

I tell my learners that I don't train them in how to make films, but in how to change the world. When I first started telling them that, it was tongue-in-cheek, but now I realize that it is more serious and more true than I first thought. That's what we do, we teach people how to change the world.

I've been lucky enough to be able to keep working on films since I've been working for the College. Now I'm helping to edit a film being made by my friend Errol Williams about a remarkable man named Kingsley Tweed who is an inspiration for me. One of the things you get to do when you work on a documentary about someone is that you have access to interviews, notebooks, and letters. One quotation from this remarkable man sticks with me:

The good you do will follow you.

We do a lot of good here and I think that it follows us.

In life I've been very lucky. I have great parents who are here today. My mother didn't want me to mention her, but I had to, she was a major influence on me, and my father as well. I've had great teachers who inspired me in many ways, and it's probably because of them that I'm a teacher now. I have an amazing partner in life, Carolyn (who many of you know), who is also a partner in procreation. We have three wonderful children (also here today) in Emily, Caitlin and John. Two years ago I was lucky enough to be hired by the Nova Scotia Community College.

I was hired by the College two years ago in the Summer and one of the first people that I met was Janet Hawkwood who I teach with now. I met Bruce Tawse who was department head at the time and his executive assistant Rhonda and our technican Shawn. Bruce took me on a tour of the Bell Road campus, but there weren't many people around as the faculty were either on vacation on attending the Summer Institute.

I sat in my office with curriculum documents and handouts and tried to figure out what I was going to do in the Fall. I wondered what I had gotten myself into. But then almost a year ago I attended my first CCEDP course which was New Faculty Orientation. It was a wonderful experience and I loved it. I knew right then that I belonged here. I started with an amazing group of people, many who are graduating today.

I remember when I first met Michelle Creelman when I walked in to register and then I met George MacLean. When I started working at the College Carolyn and I figured out that I could get a cell phone, since I hadn't had one before. So I had my new cell phone when I showed up. When I first met George and began to speak to him my phone rang and I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't know how to turn the ringing off and only knew how to answer it. I backed away from George and answered the phone and it was Carolyn who was a bit lost and was trying to get back onto the highway.

In backing away from George and answering a call in the middle of a conversation I felt bad as I thought that it was very rude. For the past two years it has bothered me and I'd like to apologize to George now for doing that. I'm sorry, George.

CCEDP is a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun. I've been trying to think of different metaphors for explaining what CCEDP and the Summer Institute is like and I've been trying them out on a lot of people here as well over the past few days.

I found a quotation by Maria Montressori,

The world of education is like an island where people, cut off from the world, are prepared for life by exclusion from it.

Then I wondered if I interpreted it correctly. Was she saying that the isolation which is similar to the Summer Institute is good or bad? So I dropped that one.

Then I thought that maybe the Summer Institute is a bit like throwing up. You may not really want to, but you know that you have to and you feel better after you've done it.

That metaphor is probably not appropriate, so I won't use that one.

The work load and challenges that we face help us empathize with our learners. It's difficult to balance your life and work when you're learning and in facing the challenges of studying here in the summer. I think that it's helped to make me a better teacher.

Another metaphor that I thought of was that CCEDP is maybe like long-distance running. You develop a pace and a rhythm and you keep on going through the pain. I'm not a runner, but I think that's what it's like. Some people that I talked with thought that it fit.

Maybe CCEDP is a group of talented, committed and dedicated people who focus on learning. We talk about learning all of the time. Do other people do this? I've had some great conversations at 1 and 2 in the morning with people about teaching. The group of talented and dedicated people is a bit too literal, which means that it's not a metaphor, so I can't use that.

I think that I know what CCEDP is. It's a covert operation designed to take over the College. There are 350 of us now scattered throughout the College and we go back and slowly change things for the better. CCEDP is a revolutionary organization.

Che Guevera said,

At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.

There is a lot of love in this room.

The important things are the people and the connections that you have made. Years from now you won't remember the courses, but you will remember the people. I've met some of the most amazing people that I've ever known here. People who have changed my life. People who have changed many lives.

I've also realized how much I have in common with the diverse group of people who are here. People from different disciplines who I never thought that I would share much with.

I've made great friends here. I found an anonymous quotation that I love and is so appropriate:

A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.

When I've been here learning in Truro at CCEDP my friends have reminded me why I teach and I've been able to remind them as well. It's important that we remember the small victories that we've had here - the breakthroughs and insights - just like we do with our learners.

The good you do will follow you.

I think that we've done a lot of good here and we'll continue to do more.

I'm proud that I'm able to share something with you and my learners. Now we're NSCC graduates. That's pretty cool.

Kingsley Tweed also said,

Faith is a fact, but faith is an act.

Every time that you teach - whether it is in the classroom, by setting an example or by comforting someone - it is a leap of faith. It is an act that makes the world a better place. I have faith in your ability to change the world. You do it every day and you'll continue to do it.

Thank you to the CCEDP team. Thanks to my fellow graduates, and thanks to everyone who helped get us here.