I call it "My Wall of Fame" with apologies to any other Hall of Fame. To me, this isn't just any Hall of Fame, it's "my" Hall of Fame, er, I mean my WALL of Fame. I do realize I run the risk of failure to include everybody, but I wanted to add a photo of me with every one of my majors that I oversaw (advertising), and many other of the students that I hope to have made a profound impact on their life. I know they have made an impact on my life.
Unfortunately, I didn't think of undertaking this monumental project, until my third year of teaching at Harding University. I am missing many students from my first three years, but I hope to collect them over the years. In May of 2020 I ended my 12th and final year of teaching at HU. I love these students like they were my own!
What started out as just a photo or two, of a student or two, being posted to my office wall, much like that of the refrigerator-art-work-mosaic that most of us have at home, my wall exploded with stories waiting to be told. As a refrigerator shows off the latest and dearest glimpses of our lives, my office wall of fame became just that place. Every opportunity that I had to get a photo of me and my student I took. Many of my students called this my “selfie-wall.”
One day, it just seemed to become “a thing" with my students. They wanted to be on the Wall, as if it was a badge of honor! I didn't know if they were mocking me, or really wanted to be on my wall, but I obliged. Doing so combined three of my favorite hobbies and heart strings, photography, my students and storytelling. I say story-telling because I truly believe that every photograph is a story taken at shutter speed. If every picture is worth a thousand words, then wow, do I have stories to tell!
I may have become known as, "that narcissist that wants a selfie with everybody." Many a student rolled their eyes as I requested a photo of them and me... but I persisted, not really caring if they thought I was weird, because, well I am weird, but a fun-weird I hope.
Some Fun Facts:
I have photos of EIGHT sets of twins that I have had in my classes, and one set of Identical TRIPLETS!
I have photos of students that were from 15 different countries; USA, Jamaica, Belize, India, Thailand, China, Malaysia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, El Salvador, Russia, Hungary, and Belgium!
My Wall of Fame has photos of major events like, graduations, class projects, fields trips to local media outlets, and my annual field trip to Chicago.
I have photos of students from Roosevelt University where I taught before coming to Harding. I have a photo of my very first intern/student from the University of the Ozarks, albeit taken 29 years later in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! Posted on my Wall of Fame are also photos taken from universities in Bangkok, Thailand, and five different universities in China. I can't seem to count them more than once and come up with the same number twice, so I'm just going to say there are well over 200 photos... and even one photo of me baptizing my ONLY Chinese advertising major that graduated from Harding!
There are so many more fun facts that I will remember later. Memories pop up in our minds as we see or hear something that takes us back to those experiences. The fun times and the joy I could retell with so many of my students would take a life time of storytelling.
I've known for some time when my retirement date would be (May of 2020), but I didn't announce it until the first week of May in 2019. I wanted to give my colleagues and Harding plenty of notice to better enable them to replace me. I also knew that at time, or soon after May of 2020, I was going to have to take my photos down, pack them away, turn in my office keys, and only have the memories of each student or teacher that I ever had grace my wall and my life, with their presence. I have plans to put them in albums with a place for a written detail of who this student is, and why they were important to me.
I wanted the taking down of my Wall of Fame to be the last thing I did before moving out. I knew I would be a weepy mess undertaking this effort. The day I went to take down my photo’s, Li Chenyang, (Hope), one of my Chinese students, insisted she come with me to help the photos come down fast and easy. Compared to how long it took to take, print and mount on my wall, the photos did come down fast – but it still wasn’t easy!
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Steve Shaner is a professional story teller that delights in traveling to meet new and old friends. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please also check out Steve's other blog, www.yeyegoestochina.com