In the spring of 1969, I was finishing my last semester as an undergraduate at SMU, and I didn’t have a clue as to what I wanted to do with my life. I had picked up a Peace Corps Volunteer application on campus in February 1969, filled it out and sent it in with only a vague idea of what the Peace Corps was all about. In April I received a letter inviting me to join the Peace Corps and teach English in Sierra Leone, West Africa. I did and it was in the jungle of West Africa in a school made from dried mud bricks that I knew I was going to be a teaher, probably for the rest of my life. I remember being somewhat surprised that what had seemed like a very difficult question (”What was I going to do in life?”) had been answered when I was too busy and preoccupied to even think about the question. Antother highlight would come several years later when I was studyihng James Joyce in graduate school at SMU and realized that I was the only one in class who immediately identified with Joyce’s idea of having an “epiphany” because of that experience in the small high school in the middle of Sierra Leone. It was a “good epiphany” and, thanks to teaching I have had many in the great journey of life.  Someone recently asked me for a definition of “successful teaching.” I didn’t think about it ,but the answer was immmediate and easy: The central qualitiies that make for successful teaching can be simply stated: command of the material to be taught, a contagious enthusiasm for the play of  ideas, optimism about human potential, the involvement of one’s students, and–not least–sensitivity, integrity, and warmth as a human being. When this combination is present in the classroom, the impact of a teacher can be powerful and enduring.