The past six months have been an exhausting time for me. Between organizing SIGITE/RIIT 2015, serving on the SIGCSE board, attending conferences, doing my research, and trying to keep up with my classes, I’ve had little rest and even less free time. The months of September and October especially seemed like an endurance run followed by an all-out sprint, and all the work has gotten me down at times. On top of everything else, we organized a second cohort for our linked-courses learning community, an effort that took months of preparation and that has meant extra work during the beginning and middle of the quarter when I had almost no time to spare. Last year we had a few bright moments, like female bonding during events and some evidence of a long-lasting connection between students, but it was also tough at times. More tough work wasn’t something I was relishing.

As it turns out though, the group this year has been a breath of fresh air for me during my hard times. They’re interactive, pay attention to what I say, are serious and yet playful, and overall are a great bunch of students. Today was the gaming party to celebrate the end of midterms, and while there was grumbling earlier in the week about attendance, more people than I expected showed up. A few of the pictures from the event are below:

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What isn’t conveyed well from the pictures is the sheer number of people who showed up (18 or about 2/3 of the class) and how much fun they had with each other. The last people didn’t leave until an hour after the official end of the party, and they clearly had a blast with each other. They even joked with me and the other faculty member involved in the community, making us feel like a part of the fun. In almost every interaction with them I’ve enjoyed myself (the exception being when they grumbled about showing up on a Saturday), and thinking about them makes me happy. They’re like the second child who makes everything easier than it was the first time around. If this keeps up I’ll be hard pressed to say no to a third cohort, which is something I would never have predicted this past summer.