And now, the last of thesis juries, brought to you by the new kinder, gentler totalitarian regime. Now instead of freaky scary, he’s helpful.
On all the posters was the slogan “Big Brother is Washing You!”

This cracks me up. I love the funny typos. (And I realize that by A. choosing this as a topic and B. writing it at the end of a long day, I’m almost guaranteed to make some myself! Please Spell-Check, catch them all! Save my reputation!) As I told the student who made them, everyone makes typos, but we bleary-eyed and fuzzy-brained professors really do appreciate the funny ones.

So I didn’t even point out to him that he described Winston and Julia’s romance as sweat.

One more from 1984: “They were devoted to service Big Brother and to worship him as a supper leader.” He really is nicer folks!

You learn so much at this job. For example, I learned that “colonial legacies still perch on the African mind.” I learned that “Africans were worshipping animals, woods, and pants.” (Well if you saw some of their outfits!) And a beautiful woman was described as “nourishing men’s eyes with her perfect shape.”

And don’t forget that “sight, like the mind and the rain, happens to be a physically based occurrence over which humans have no control.”

Some of you may remember my favorite student of the year, dubbed Romeo. Many students use long words in their thesis papers, usually lifted straight from books or internet articles; he is an especially frequent offender. I called him on one of them. “What does soporific mean?” I asked him. He blinked, startled. “You mean you don’t know?” he asked me, “shocked” at my ignorance. It was priceless.

He dedicated his paper to his “expert typist and English graduater.”

And yet, these students work really hard. They have a TERRIBLE time finding sources—books in English are just plain rare in Mauritania, especially books of the sort that they need. Whereas in the States, we start learning how to take notes and produce research papers in about Grade 5 or so, this is the very first research paper these students have ever done! They have no idea about how to take notes, or how not to plagiarize, or how heinous a crime it is, or at least used to be and still should be. One student, whose paper on Poe included the gem “This glossy edition includes several illustrations by well-known artist Mark Summers” which was so obviously copied directly off the back of a book, responded to my criticism (ok scolding) by saying to me, “But this is why I asked you to supervise me. I knew you would teach me how to do it right. I never knew before.”

I admire them; I despair of them. They work so hard; they’re so lazy. They achieve incredible heights given their circumstances; all they do is sit around and complain and cheat, and they are often so rude. They drive me crazy.

And so, “I dedicate this harvest of the previous years of my education to all those who I respect and want to express to them my real appreciation and grateful.”