Fall 2013 was the second time I taught my Introduction to History course at Messiah College. We designed this one-credit course to orient our first-year students to some of the basics of historical thinking, the history curriculum at Messiah, and the many things they could do with a history major.
When I taught the course the year before I had the students read manuscript chapters of a book that would eventually become Why Study History?: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past. At that time the working title was “The Power to Transform.”
In Fall 2013 I was excited to use the newly released book. Baker Academic said that the book would be out in August, but for reasons I can’t remember it was delayed. I got my free author copies of the book in the second week of September, but the book was still not available for sale to the general public. I really wanted to get a copy in the hands of the students so I decided to sell off my author copies. I remember showing up to class with my box and giving a copy to every student. I think I charged them $5.00. One of my students reminded me of this the other day at our senior dinner.
I will always remember the students in that course. Today many of them graduate from Messiah College. They will be putting their history majors to good use in all kinds of fields. One student is heading to Germany for a two-year mission working with the victims of prostitution. Another student is joining the Air Force where he will be working as a linguist. Another will be pursuing a career in public humanities. Several will be classroom teachers.
It has been a pleasure to watch them grow into mature young adults and mature historical thinkers. Introduction to History is only a small part of their college experience and a small part of my interaction with them over the course of their four years at Messiah. But small memories like this bring great joy to those of us who pour ourselves into the lives of students.
Congratulations Messiah College History class of 2017!