Friday, March 24, 2006

Isolation is not just in academia...

The articles from Inside Higher Ed often get me thinking, and today is no different. This one discusses the problem of isolation in academia and asks whether or not we bring this upon ourselves, by virtue of our career choice.

After living in Ann Arbor, MI, State College, PA, East Lansing, MI, Winston-Salem, NC and now Chapel Hill/Durham, NC, I can now confidently say that isolation is not just in academia. My husband has always been an academic, but I have not. We have always been church members and our children have always been involved with their schools. What we have found is that people are very wrapped up in their own lives, and in the south, it is complicated by the fact that we are "yankees". When we first moved to the south, it was made very clear to me that I was different. They already had their circle of friends--couldn't I just go and find my own?!

We struggle with this today. My children love their school, but we sit in the car pool line and don't know any of the other parents who sit next to us. My husband is the brave one who gets out and walks around, hoping to strike up a conversation with the other moms who are waiting to pick up their children. I've actually tried to do this at school functions, but the parents are too busy talking to their old friends to be interested in meeting a new person.

Maybe it is just that comfort in the old feeds isolation. In our next life, we are looking for just the opposite.


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