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Deconstructing Proverbs
September 29, 2011 - 8:15pm

September's UVenus question comes to us from Meg Palladino -- What is your favorite proverb or saying, and why?

Afshan Jafar (US) My favorite proverb: "He teaches ill, who teaches all." As a teacher, I love the wisdom of this proverb: a good teacher leaves some room for students to make their own discoveries and arrive at their own conclusions instead of spoon-feeding all the answers to them.

Ana Dinescu (Germany) Do not be wise in words - be wise in deeds. Why? Because I consider that without actions and direct interventions your words are worth nothing. Only our good deeds confer value and sense to our words.

Denise Horn (US) This isn't really a proverb in the traditional sense, and I don't remember where I heard it (it was a military guy, I think) but it is something I live by: "Don't worry about biting off more than you can chew. Your mouth is a hell of a lot bigger than you think."

Janni Aragon (Canada) My favourite proverb rotates. But, one that I always return to and is on a trivet by my desk is “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Ghandi. When I am advising students during my office hours, I see the students’ energy and their aspirations remind me of this important proverb. They are trying hard to be the change.

Meg Palladino (US) I love proverbs, and there are a lot of great proverbs out there from all over the world, but my favorite is “Every dog has his day.” Although it can have darker meanings of revenge and punishment, I prefer to think of it as joyful, just, and hopeful.

Rosalie Arcala Hall (Philippines) “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” by Thomas Alba Edison. This is my mantra when I sit down to do any kind of proposal or academic paper writing. Tracking and reading materials, taking copious notes, going over multiple drafts-- lots of work and time invested. A professor of mine also gave me a corollary advice when I was doing my dissertation-- that completing a PhD is never about brilliance but tenacity. Hard work and perseverance are key to any success; not fortune or connections (although these might help).

Liana Silva (US) One of my favorite proverbs has to be "no cruces el rio antes de llegar (don't cross the river before you get there)." It always brings my parents to mind because it was their response to a lot of things I would say as a kid. When I was younger it would annoy me but now it reminds me to take things one day at a time.

Anamaria Dutceac (Sweden) I have many favorite proverbs, but one I have been discussing recently is "Necessity is the mother of invention". I take it to be an optimist statement about the power of creation that lies latent in all humans: for example, the necessity of solving the climate problem will push humanity to find solutions. The alternative being extinction, we have lots of incentives to be very inventive!

Elizabeth Pardoe (US) I'm wont to tell my children - academic and biological - that 80% of life is showing up. It seems particularly well suited to the UVenus crowd. If we don't 'show up' to the discussions that shape higher education around the world, nothing will change. If we merely 'show up,' we have already overturned centuries of sexist tradition.

Itir Toksoz (Turkey) DoÄŸru söyleyeni dokuz köyden kovarlar. He who tells the truth will be driven away from nine villages.

Mary Churchill (US) The early bird gets the worm has always been one of my favorite sayings. Most mornings I wake up before dawn, with the birds, and this is my favorite time of the day. It’s not so much about getting the worm as it is about being the early bird.

Ernesto Priego (UK) One of my favourite proverbs in English is "whatsoever a man (or a woman) soweth, that shall [s]he also reap." I like it not in a passive-aggressive fashion, but in the sense that work and actions have consequences. I also like a line from Buddha's teachings, "The falling of drops of water will in time fill a water-jar." I like the idea of gradual process, of daily actions which are often not noticed until "the water-jar" is full...


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