The students I’ve really kept up with came from the final three senior classes I taught: 2000, 2001, 2002. I wonder how much of that is who those students were, who I was when I was teaching them (those were great years for me; I was becoming who I wanted to be), and how much social media let us continue a connection immediately (versus students I have since re-“friended,” but we had a gap). Of course, I was in grad school while they were in college, so there was an interesting connection there, too. My world changed about when theirs did and we were having some of the same experiences, albeit on different levels. We were staying up all night writing papers and IM’ing each other: a very different world than when students left to go to college and maybe stopped by my classroom at Christmastime their freshman year to check in, but that’s it. There were also some bonding experiences with those students (9/11 being the prime one, but also a local loss bringing us all together) that may have put us in a different relationship than with earlier years (though I certainly had good connections with students in earlier years and I’m FB friends with a fair number from 1999, my first APers).
So today I am kind of ridiculously excited about having lunch with a student from the class of 2001. We were in IM and email contact the first few years after she graduated, and renewed our connection through that ubiquitous social networking site a couple years ago. We’ve always had interesting discussions about living as Christian, and about theology. We’ve also had good discussions about healthy lifestyles. I am fascinated to catch up with her and continue a long-standing dialogue.