The phone rang. I knew the number, I knew what the conversation would be about. And instead of instantly sending it to voicemail I merely silenced it this time. And then a switch flipped in my brain and I said, “what the hell, I’ll answer it”. And I did. “Hello, this is ___________ from Ohio Wesleyan, how are you this evening?” And so it began.
I have a love/hate relationship with my alma mater. Okay, really it’s love-80/hate-20 relationship. I met some of my best friends there, learned a lot about who I am, and cultivated my outlook on life. I have wonderful (memorable) stories, and memorable (not so wonderful) stories. But OWU holds more than just my college days, it holds a part of my career start. My first full time gig, even though I knew it was temporary. And those memories and lessons are priceless in their own way.
But back to this phone call. I knew it would be about money. I can identify the call source by the phone number. The first 6 digits denote an OWU number. The last four numbers show the specific office. -2024. That’s the call center. I used to work the call center as a student, on the Admissions/Recruiting side. But, as I am not currently a prospective student (nor am I supporting a prospective student) I knew it would be the annual giving side.
I have an agreement with myself that I won’t give to my alma mater. Nothing against the institution, I have made it a point that until I pay off my student loans (really, it’s paying off the cost of attending The ‘Wu) I won’t give financially to them. I’ve given back to the community in other ways: helped with Admissions events in Indy, called families of prospective students, sent supplies to my sorority for recruitment. But money won’t happen until my student loans are at zero.
That was until this college sophomore started talking to me. He was a quick speaker, so I didn’t catch his name. But I can tell you they trained him well. He connected with me on our interest in religion and passion for Youth Ministry. “This won’t work,” I thought. “He won’t rope me in”. And then he had the nerve to say, “I’m actually in a religion class right now, I wonder if you ever had this professor…” I doubt it. There can’t be many of the same professors. “It’s a class on Ethics with..” <beat> “…Dr. Twesigye.” Dammit. How did this kid know that would seal the deal?
Dr. Emmanuel Twesigye is one of the most unique (that’s putting it lightly) professors I have ever had. Short in stature, big in social and moral compass. Forced to flee Uganda during the reign of Idi Amin, he is one of the most inspirational people I have ever met, though you may just write him off as a crazed evangelist from first glance.
What I learned in his classes had little to do with reference material or scholarly works. But it had everything to do with digging deeper, questioning, debating, and looking at different points of view. Sometimes, there were cultural barriers in the way he taught. Often times he made me laugh without meaning to be funny. But he made me think in ways that were counter to my everyday thought processes. And that is something that is priceless.
Some of my favorite Twesigye memories include the following:
“Why do you think Babe thought about commuting suicide?” Definitely not something I had ever thought about when watching Babe. But now it’s something I’ll never forget.
“Oh, you are drinking Passion Tea! Does it give you passion.” I have never seen Sam Chesser and Greylyn Hydinger laugh as hard as I did in this moment.
“Oh, PG-18..” well, you see there is PG-13 and NC-17 but…well never mind.
His love for Tillich will always be the source of my connection to Tillich.
When we impersonated our Religion Professors for the Religion Department t-shirts I knew there was only one person I could be. I make a pretty good white, female Twesigye. I have the shirt to prove it.
Long story short, I told that sophomore student to send me a link so I could make a donation online. I am breaking my rule, but Twesigye is worth it.