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I am responding to the Gratitude prompt here. I am grateful for many things and many people in MYFest and I think I have mentioned some of those in my Suitcase prompt.

Today, as I sat talking to one of my colleagues at work, I mentioned, by name, Yasser and Alia. And so that is why this post is about them.

Alia is a graduate student and Yasser an undergraduate student at my university. They have attended more sessions than anyone else in MYFest who isn’t an organizer (I don’t need someone to do the statistics, I am almost 100% sure). But it’s not about attendance, it is about the presence of these two wonderful people and the value they bring into each session they attend.

I know it takes confidence to be a “student” (although Alia as a grad student in education is of course a peer) among many experienced faculty or teachers. And when they do, Alia and Yasser bring so much value into the room.

I have learned more from Yasser in the past 3 months about accessibility than I have in the past three years of trying to be an ally. Some of it happened privately, but some of it also became new emergent sessions such as the syllabus accessibility jam we co-conceived.

And Alia has exemplified how to be a generous participant/guest, not only in her presence and contributions, but also in her consistent practice of sharing her notes before leaving any session.

And what I was telling my colleague today is that faculty development sessions would benefit so much if we had more graduate and undergraduate students participating. Not every single session, maybe, but honestly, in every MYFest session it worked!

When choosing an image for this post, I chose to use one of a very special peach I came across. It’s those Chinese disc-shaped peaches but this one was extra special. It was a large peach at the bottom stuck to a smaller peach on top, as if the one on top was its child or something. But they were interconnected. And the metaphor for this post is that maybe faculty are more experienced, older, more mature, but our work is so closely interconnected with students that, honestly, it makes so much more sense to experience our learning journeys together, not apart.