I ran into one of my favorite former teachers today in my hometown middle school parking lot. I had just dropped off my brother at lacrosse practice and was making my way out of the carpool lane when I saw his familiar, smiling face—a goofy grin from my eighth grade English instructor that I hadn't seen in years, signaling me over from the clogged flock of Honda Odysseys. Immediately, I heeded his gesture, put the car in park, and was greeted by the warm hug of an old friend.
“Catching up” initially began with the “usual” topics of conversation one asks a college student: How was your year? Have you decided on a major? What are your plans for this summer? Calling upon my regular arsenal of small-talk, I had certain answers already prepared to address the first two questions. However, when I considered my response to my teacher’s third proposal, the imminence of a completely atypical and exciting reality set in: “Well, tomorrow I am off to Denmark...”
This past semester at St. Lawrence I studied "Human Flourishing in Contemporary Society," or (as I simply explained it to my peers who were not enrolled in the course), "The Philosophy of Happiness." I looked forward to every Monday/Wednesday meeting at Piskor Hall, where our intimate group of ten (approx.) students and Professor Erin McCarthy discussed, argued, connected (and, of course, sometimes confused...) various philosophical considerations of "the good life." We started and ended each day "with a bow," to ensure that even the most difficult-to-grasp concepts were explored in a place of unified open-mindedness and respect—so that the environment where we contemplated "human flourishing" was directly conducive to our own flourishing as learners.
By the end of spring semester, our philosophy class had already grown quite close. Tomorrow, I look forward to solidifying further friendships with each of my three other peers, as well as Erin and her family, who will be departing with me to Denmark. Over the next ten days of SLU's "Human Flourishing in Contemporary Society" travel program, I am eager to apply what we have learned about happiness this year in a classroom in Canton, to the streets of Copenhagen—one of the "happiest" cities in the world. It seems like only a week ago that I was back at St. Lawrence, scrambling to finish finals…because that is true. In fact it has only just hit me that in 24 hours I will actually be on a red-eye flight to Copenhagen. My bags are packed, though, my mind is ready, and I am SO excited for the adventure that lies ahead!