Saturday, March 4, 2017


"Is that true? You served in Kuwait and Iraq?"
"Unfortunately," he replied. I had spent the majority of the past hour looking at his army leather jacket while he toiled over scarps of notes. He gave his life to the country and now here he is in community college writing a paper on koi ponds. I was assigned to work with him because he uses disability software, but he had no trouble with the software. He mainly needed help double spacing and saving to his flash-drive. Finding the parentheses was difficult. I asked him why he indented every line. He did not know what a paragraph was. We had fifteen minutes left and he needed help citing his sources. He had a pile of articles carefully printed and underlined but forgot a lot of the titles he had used. We're supposed to encourage the student to take the lead in all their learning, but he was getting nervous. I had another appointment soon, and besides that, the library was about to close. I sat with the APA stylebook on my lap and told him what info belonged where. I did not make him look it up. Even with me guiding the ship, he would forget punctuation or leave things blank. He dropped a paper and told me he has mental trauma. And I swear the whole scene went black and white. It's no surprise that academia can seem ridiculous sometimes, but oh my god this human does not need to learn in-text citations. He taps a million spaces to correctly right-align the professor's name. I ask if he knows how to do that any other ways. He says, "Ma'am, I don't know nothin'."

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