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Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Years Resolutions, New Intern Applications and Foreseeing Culture Shock

Bow's new year resolution to learn to play the piano seems to have fizzled out, as happens with many a new year's resolution. He played with the keyboard a couple of times after the initial attempy, and Lawrence was trying to teach him the scale, but Bow lost interest and handed the keyboard back and asked for it to be taken away.

That's actually one of the new ways in which Bow has been showing more self-control lately: when he no longer wants something in with him, instead of trying to destroy it, he asks for it to be taken away. Yesterday, Lawrence was here, and Bow had had his blanket with him all afternoon, but by the time I came in to relieve Lawrence, the blanket had been put away.

"Bow handed me the blanket and told me to put it up," Lawrence explained. "He said he wanted to eat." (Bow knows I always ask for the blanket before I serve dinner, but he didn't wait for me to come in and ask. He wanted to be ready.)

I hope that in the future, if Bow is not having a good time with one of the interns, he will also find the words to say: "Please go out now," rather than using a more direct approach to get them to leave. This is one of the things that I am thinking about with the regard to possible summer interns. Because right now the applications are starting to come in, and these are eager students, many with excellent qualifications and valuable experiences. I hope that we will find a good match for Bow and for our program.

But in addition to worrying about whether the new intern will get along with Bow, I also worry about other things. I worry that maybe these young people have had all their education in academic settings that were so institutionalized, that they might not even conceive of the idea of a private research project setting. I am working hard to alert them to our lack of institutional affiliation, and everything that this implies. I am hoping to find future students among the applicants, but they are probably unprepared for what it would be like to pursue a research project for years without substantial funding. It will be an eye opening experience for them on so many levels. After all, in the real world everything is very different.

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