A number of years ago, amidst a rare bout of spring cleaning I came across all of my degree notes from my time at the University of Ulster.
Folders of foolscap notes, photocopied chapters of books, old essays with the tutor’s red scrawl all over them, even my old exam revision notes. Pages and pages and pages of paper and old computer statistical print from Social Science along with what seemed thousands and thousands of staples.
Honestly, it took me a full day going through my notes, removing staples (and the odd paper clip) to move the bulk of my four years paperwork into the recycle bin. The bin was full to the brim by the time I had finished.
It was “bye bye time” to a number of Community Youthwork modules including Sociology, Psychology, Adolescent Development, Group Work, Listening Skills, Young people and Conflict, Young People and the Law, Drama Studies to name but a few. Truth be told, I had not looked at a single page since leaving the “UU” in 1992.
That day of shredding was definitely a moving on ceremony for me. As I waded through A4 page after A4 page my memory and emotions were set ablaze…no not with the study and exams and deadlines the paperwork represented but the privilege of being able to learn and more importantly the privilege of being able to encounter people and situations very different from what I had grown up with. Many a laugh was had during those young years and a few tears and I found myself giving thanks for the friendship forged during this season that still today sustain me.
And for all that time studying, to this day, one phrase spoken by one of my tutors during a discussion about a lack of resources for working with young people still guides my work and ministry. After a tutorial of complaining and some bellyaching he looked us each in the eye and said,
“You are your own best resource.”
And do you know what?
You are your own best resource.