Posted by: Mark Wollemann: On the move | May 3, 2013

In the books …

Melody, making her first "speech" as department chair.

Melody, making her first “speech” as department chair.

… and so endeth the second season, er, year of my professorship. I taught six classes (three first semester, three this semester) and I had a great time. I learned some things, I tried to transfer a little knowledge. I offered support to those students who sought me out. I tried to be prepared and energetic in the classroom. I worked hard to give writing feedback. And I tried to keep the sleepy ones from nodding off in class (win some, lose some).

I even tried to instill some discipline in the classroom, but it was a mostly failed effort. I’m too lenient. It was always so when we were raising Jenna, and it just continues. Maybe I need to get meaner — especially about cell phones. Melody says so — and, well, she’s the boss.

That’s right. Melody is the new department chair of the Journalism and Mass Communications wing of the American University in Bulgaria. It happened a few weeks ago and an official announcement came a week or two later. The students — at least those who speak to us of such things — seem excited. Melody is not the administrative “type,” but she is a leader and she’ll set a great and enthusiastic tone for the department. Then we’ll just do our best to make the experience for students as rewarding as possible. And at least I know where to go when I need a day off!

We’re starting to say so long to some colleagues who we’ve loved hanging out with this semester. And soon we’ll be donning our “regalia” for graduation, where we’ll be saying goodbye to some students we’ve grown close to these past two years. This is the strange and wonderful part of this experience. If you’re doing it right, you’re helping to shape and launch a few careers. In so doing, you’re interceding in the lives of young people at the beginning of this critical chapter of their lives. If all goes well, they’ll be making the world just a little better place than the one they were born into.

That’s the first part of this thing Teacher-Student thing. The second part is, well, they’re just so darned likable. Even when they’re pressuring you for a better grade, relief on a deadline for an assignment, or an understanding ear for their lapse in attendance, it’s hard not to pull for them. This place is special not because of the “institution,” the bricks and mortar, the professors or its location in picturesque Southwest Bulgaria. Nope, it’s special because of these remarkable kids, who come together from all over the region — from Turkmenistan and Tajikistan and Albania and Serbia and Kosovo and Ukraine and Moldova and Russia and, well, Bulgaria. Yeah, there are disputes — and, of course, this place is far from perfect. But it hasn’t had 150 years to perfect itself. It’s 21 years old and it’s something to behold.

We hope AUBG continues to thrive and attract the kinds of people we’ve come to know these past two years. We hope we can keep making some small difference in this splendid little spot. And long after they graduate and we’ve been put out to pasture, we hope that we’ll have many opportunities to say — “Hey, I knew her when …” and “I remember him from …” That’s the hope, anyway.

Our graduation "get-up." Picture comes from AUBG Daily and I think it was taken by Tamuna Gachechiladze. I think.

Our graduation “get-up.” Picture comes from AUBG Daily and I think it was taken by Tamuna Gachechiladze. I think.




  1. Mark you look professorial, in a sort of disheveled, everybody’s-favorite-teacher way. Melody simply looks lovely. Congratulations to you both and my warmest wishes for continued great adventure. And Mel, I may need a job soon. And no, I have no problem kissing up to the chair of the department. Yours in smiles. PK

  2. Hey brother… Love that pic! Melody looks great! You… good. lol
    Congrats on what sounded like a great year. Looking forward to seeing you guys. Miss Ya. G

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