What started as an independent research project meeting on the snoozy side turned into Storytime with Professor Fred Gottheil — a fun-filled Friday afternoon segment that remains Zenobia Ravji’s Illini highlight.
“Every Friday afternoon junior year, two of my friends and fellow economics students would meet in Fred’s office to discuss our findings on an independent research project: the global economic impact of the geopolitical climate of the Middle East.
"It sounds really boring. And, that’s because it was really boring. Fred thought so, too,” says Ravji, now a Big Apple-based writer/journalist who holds bachelor’s degrees in economics and Spanish and two master’s, in political science and journalism, all from Illinois.
“So, after the obligatory discussion on our ‘findings,’ Fred would naturally transition into telling us stories about his life, his younger years teaching at the University, his participation in the Vietnam War protests, his travels and such. But, what stands out most is when he pulled out a stack of papers from his drawer.
“It was a book he had written — the personified lives of blades of grass. Fred would read out loud to us, and time would fly. I couldn’t wait till the following Friday to find out what happened to the lives of those blades of grass!
“It was so interesting. And so much more interesting than the global economic impact of the geopolitical climate of the Middle East.”