Dear ‘Older’ Generation’ #UniversityCrisis

Dear ‘Older’ Generation,

 

Yes –

You with the permanent posts

the faculty members

the tenure trackers

 

We simply wanted to pause you

For a short moment or two

To share with you

A few things

That cause frustration

stress and angst

 

Call it gap of generations

or maybe something else

But we simply cannot help but feel

that despite best intentions

you’re fundamentally lost

in getting our situation

 

And since misunderstandings

Breed ill feelings, insults and hurt

let us share a thing or two

of which you may not be aware

 

For when we receive (yet another)

Short post of year or two

you congratulate us warmly

 

on our privilege to immerse

ourselves in our ambitions

without intrusion from teaching

or bloody admin work.

 

When we attend a workshop

A conference – even abroad

 

You remind us ever so gently

Just how privileged we are

to have such opportunities

to present our work

in front of ALL those colleagues

– ‘we never had that chance’

 

When we receive our working spaces

– shared office (maybe  a window),

– small corner  (in a cramped library)

– ‘sorry, we have no space – it’s just the library card for visitors’

 

you remind us (again)

just how many others

would be thrilled to take our place

and how it really is a luxury

to simply – be us.

 

We nod and keep smiling calmly

for of course we’ re fully aware

of just how many others

applied for our posts too.

 

But something inside bubbles

For we burn to set things straight.

 

We feel that you should know

just how much, in fact,

we invest

 

to work in that tiny office,

to take up that post

to go to that event

 

That we move from country to country

That we (again) give up home

That we abandon friends and family

And maybe even more

 

That we postpone even HAVING a family,

since it’s never good time for a break.

 

And how do you even have

Or hold

A relationship on the go?

 

Do you know that you’re our Heros,

our Role Models,

our Ultimate Goals?

 

We put up with all this

JUST

to become LIKE YOU!

 

And there’s little in return

That we would never do

 

We WANT to do that teaching

And that admin hassle too

Hell,

We’ll even take on audits,

And an annual report or two

 

Or least of all

– the opportunity

to complain about it all!

 

All of that would mean

That we would have ‘arrived’

Become the ‘someones’ we always

Knew we were destined to be

 

That we, too, would have

An identity,

Even career

 

Why won’t you momentarily

Put yourselves in our shoes

 

Then each report and audit

Might be a kiss of death

Your eternal goodbye to the field

That you now view as

backbone to identity

livelihood

and glee

 

For that is what the reality

offers to us now

A constant flirt with ending

With no sights in the beyond

 

After our posts end

We’re right back

to square one

With nothing left but hope

Of yet a new dawn

 

Or so it feels

When we compete

yet again

for meager funds

with ever increasing hordes

So qualified

determined

and YOUNG

 

That on bad days

it makes you weep

and thought of giving up feels

best of all

 

Yes,

we know that things were tough

back in your days too

But just so that you know

It ain’t so great today

 

That’s all we want to say

 

So maybe the next time

we frown when you expect a smile

At least you’ll know why

And you’ll give us a break

 

For we are tired, real tired

 

By Miia Halme-Tuomisaari

Dedicated to Margaret Mary Vojtko

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