In American life, we think we are most free when we don't need anybody. Exactly what Alzheimer's represents is absolute dependency - That's what we all need to learn - how deeply we need one another.
- Stanley Hauerwas, Professor of Theological Ethics
If someone listens, or stretches out a hand, or whispers a kind word of encouragement, or attempts to understand a lonely person, extraordinary things begin to happen.
- Loretta Girzartis, Author
You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
- A. A. Milne, Author (Winnie the Pooh)
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essayist
All real living is meeting.
- Martin Buber, Philosopher
They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything.
- Bil Keane, Cartoonist
Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat . . .We must find each other.
- Mother Theresa, Saint
Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.
- Christopher Columbus, Explorer
I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.
- Albert Schweitzer, Missionary
The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
- William James, Philosopher
A good traveler is one who does not know where he is going to, and a perfect traveler does not know where he came from.
- Lin Yutang, Writer
Memory Bridge Newsletter
10/10/08 - Profile: Susan Bussey
Susan grew up in Beaumont, Texas, and attended the liberal arts college Austin College in Sherman, Texas, as an undergraduate. She studied English and International Studies, traveled to Australia, Quebec, and Central America, and served as the editor of the college newspaper for a year and a half.
At graduation, Susan went to work for the academic publishing company Wadsworth, which eventually became International Thomson. The job took her around the country, and she lived in St. Louis, northern California, and Oklahoma while working on college textbooks. Eventually, however, the increasingly competitive environment in the publishing industry began to wear on her. Although interacting with academics and developing educational materials had drawn her into publishing, she no longer felt those aspects of her job defined it. "It dawned on me that I would always really be working for profit," Susan explains, "and it wasn't even my own."
In 1996, Susan left publishing to work with academics directly--by becoming one. She earned an M.A. and Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis, graduating with a specialty in nineteenth-century American literature. Her dissertation, which she considers a "work still in progress," deals with social status anxiety in 1890s novels that feature a racial discovery plot, where an adult character discovers they have "black blood." Her work has been published in African-American Review, Crosstimbers: An Interdisciplinary Journal, and the Greenwood Encyclopedias, and she received a grant to study a Mark Twain manuscript at the J.P. Morgan Library.
After finishing her degree in 2003, Susan took a position as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where she was commended by three different student bodies for her teaching and advising work. She also received funding from the university's Kaufman Foundation office to help develop a service-learning program specifically for English majors. It was that work that brought Susan back in touch with Michael Verde, a childhood friend and longtime correspondent: "I looked Michael up after my mother forwarded me a piece about him from our hometown paper--last I knew he was teaching, and I couldn't believe the directions his work seemed to be taking." Michael was in the midst of filming There Is a Bridge, and his own service-learning curriculum was under development. When they discovered their overlapping interests, Susan brought her old friend out to North Carolina to speak directly to her students, and the two of them also planned a conference panel together on reading and community.
In 2006, she accepted a tenure-track position in the English Department at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, a public liberal arts college much like the one she had attended herself as an undergrad. She continued trying to develop service programs and innovative literature courses for college students, but found much of her time was caught up in administrative duties. Her family--husband Forrest and three sons, Lafayette, Wells, and Ambrose--were having their own difficulties adjusting to life in rural Oklahoma. "My husband grew up in a small town," Susan says, "and we thought we would enjoy the slower pace of life. But I guess we were a little too used to the conveniences of a city after all. It drove us crazy that we had to drive 45 minutes just to find ethnic food!"
When Michael called in June of this year, suggesting Susan visit Chicago to consider taking her place with Memory Bridge, she was hesitant at first: "I had spent a long time getting to that particular place in my academic career. Despite my enthusiasm for Michael's work and this initiative, I had to do some soul-searching to envision life as anything other than a professor." The trip to Memory Bridge offices, where she met the Worldview Education team and sat in on a teacher roundtable discussion, helped ease the transition. When her husband admitted he was secretly dying to move to a large (very large) city, the decision became an easy one.
"August was probably the most hectic month of my life," Susan admits, "and I had defended my dissertation and had a baby in one month in 2003." But the family is settling in to a home in Oriole Park while they wait for their home in Oklahoma to sell, and Susan has found a place in the Worldview offices for most, if not all, of her books. She has jumped into the job headfirst, and will be coordinating two Chicago Memory Bridge classes this fall at the same time she is working to develop a college version of the curriculum. "Every once in a while I feel like I jumped off a cliff," Susan says, "but the people working here, and the program itself, are so very heartening. I couldn't imagine a better parachute."