When the eight kids on the BU English literature program in London met Hannah Crummé, our TA for the semester, the first thing she said to us was, “So, what have you heard about me?” We answered her with blank stares, and her face fell. “Nothing? No stories?” We shook our heads. She was so disappointed, and after spending the last three and a half months with Hannah, we all came to love her so much that I want to do my best to make sure that she doesn’t feel the same way next year.
Hannah is 29 and from Oregon, but she lives in London now with her husband whom she met here while studying abroad herself. Technically she’s been married twice, once in the US and once in the UK. Hannah has a habit of pointing her fingers like guns and saying, “It’s fine! It’s fine!” which the lit kids liked to do in a high-pitched voice as an imitation of her. She’s about to get her PhD in English, and as she said to us as we said our goodbyes after taking our final exam, “I’m bad at hugging, but it’s okay because I’m good at literature.” And that’s true, she’s very good at literature. When I told her I wanted to write this piece about her, she simply emailed me her five-page resume and a long summary of her current research project on Jane Dormer. Three minutes later, she sent me a follow up email telling me she’s been cited on Wikipedia.
And of course, that’s all very impressive, but I think the most impressive thing about Hannah is how authentic she is. Hannah is smart and smiling and nothing but herself. It’s so clear that everything she says is honest and genuine. She never flaunts her intelligence, never shows off, which makes me think that I only saw the tip of the iceberg of the knowledge that she has. She who spends her days holed up with the really old Shakespeare books in the British Library (where she swears the security guards rate the women out of ten and give the lower-numbered women a hard time). She who told me she’s never said a swear word in her life and then said “damn” and claimed it wasn’t a real swear word.
And Hannah is so genuinely kind. She often brought cookies to class, and we joked that it was to win us over, to bribe us to like her, but we knew it was just because she likes to do nice things for people. And she would never say anything mean about someone she didn’t like, although you can tell when she’s thinking something less than sweet about someone. Her face gives it away too easily. We liked to watch her face in class because she’d always look politely confused when our nutty old professor would say something ridiculous, and the two of them would make us roar with laughter.
Yet, I feel there just aren’t the right words in this language to properly convey to you what Hannah is like. You’d have to meet her to really get it, and I honestly wish everyone in the world could do just that, because she’s such an interesting and incredible person.