Wednesday, 8 January 2014

DEAR NUALA

Letters from Bay Path
I get a lot of post. My kids are always jealous. My 4 year old has recently started to write to her 2 year old cousin in Dublin just so she can receive something from the postman too.

Today I got extra special post. My bladder is near my eye at the best of times, but I was moved to a few little tears by the package that came today. It was a collection of thank you notes, and a gift of two notepads, from students I gave a talk to in October in Bay Path College, Massachusetts.

Notepads from Bay Path students
Did I mention my love of these particular notepads to them? And that I stock up on them in the States when I go? I may have. Whatever the reason I am thrilled to have these. They are my perfect beside-the-bed writing fodder.

But more thrilling, of course, are the letters. They are so heartfelt, so kindly, so positive. One girl thanked me for writing about motherhood - she worries she writes about it too much but now feels free to write what she wants. Another girl told me that, since my talk, she writes for pleasure for an hour every day. One said hearing me speak about the writing life 'touched' her as she is an aspiring writer. Another: 'Your accent is really cool'!!

It is good to be thankful and I am every day: for my family, for my job, for my health. But it also lovely to be thanked - it makes you feel valid and revitalised. I've been glowing all day since I opened the envelope from Bay Path.

The class I spoke to is called WELL - Women Empowered Learners and Leaders. I wish every college had a class like that, where students from all faculties are brought together to be supported and to learn how women can excel in the world.

I'm not sure I could live in Massachusetts: it's too far from my family and it's way too cold. But that's all I can come up with against it. Massachusetts is an evolved place; this was clear to me when researching my novel set there. Even in the 19th Century they were progressive. And the people I met there late last year were educated, liberal, friendly, kindhearted and positive. And the libraries I visited - oh my God, the fantastic libraries; I was green over them.

Massachusetts, it seems to me, cares about women, which says a lot about any place. Bay Path is a women's only college and I was stunned by the level of support and nurturing the young women there receive, along with their good education.

So I want to say my own thank you to teacher Kim, and to Yomira, Sibley, Brittany, Theresa, Jillian, Jensen, Chasidee, Olivia, Megan, Xiaotai and all the other lovely people I met in Longmeadow, Amherst, Shelburne Falls and Cambridge. I will be back in Massacusetts as soon as I can manage it. Maybe not to live (!) but definitely to breathe deep on its positive, nurturing atmosphere.

4 comments:

Kar said...

WOW! How wonderful to receive such thanks.. so thoughtful! they sound like a great group!

I'm with Juno, mad jealous of all your post ;-)
x

Kar said...

WOW! How wonderful to receive such thanks.. so thoughtful! they sound like a great group!

I'm with Juno, mad jealous of all your post ;-)
x

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

It was the loveliest thing, Kar. It set me up right for the day.l

eimearryan said...

Handwritten letters! So lovely. I love Massachusetts too, dying to go back. x