When I first started taking online classes, I was excited because I like working independently, but I thought I still might miss the connections and friendships you develop in face-to-face classes. I had not really thought of this much since I began, but just last week I realized that I DO have relationships with my classmates, and the connections are close and caring. Sure, we can’t just go out for coffee together after class, for example, but through many classes I have come to know and trust my Sterling colleagues as friends!
The reason I realized this all of a sudden is that in the context of the discussion questions in class (which, as I have said before in this blog, always have a component of connecting what you are learning to your experience and your life), I have shared some things – both experiences and questions – that I have not shared with anyone or voiced for quite awhile.
And I see this in my classmates too. Our sharing and discussions are honest, encouraging, probing, and always helping us to go deeper into the material to discover new truths or new ways of looking at the topic or question at hand. We also share very personal things sometimes, and the relationships and the environment are respectful and supportive. We encourage one another, we struggle together with both class material and life situations, we offer insight and question assumptions, and we pray for one another. What a gift.
So, as I sit at my computer, sipping my beverage and answering discussion questions and responding to the posts of some of my classmates/friends, I realize we are having coffee together. Just not all at the same time. :-)