1). The story about Hugo's hitch hiking ordeal was entertaining. It is telling about how sometimes politeness and a smile will get some further than they should. In this case it was the British colonel getting classified information out of Hugo. Maybe the colonel didn't have this as a goal but simply doing Hugo a favor resulted in a reciprocation probably exceeding what the colonel ever hoped for. This story shows how easily classified information can be spread and is surprising that such an intelligent person would be foolish enough to have "loose lips".
These stories serve Hugo to show the reader that experiences big or small can lead to many different poetic works. These works may still be "not good enough" but regardless can be worth the journey to become a better poet. Poetry is about personal experience and I don't know why but I feel it is only right that the teacher of "openness and honesty" be open and honest in his own experience.
3). I think Hugo touched upon honesty, obsession, vulnerability and humor all together in the chapter about defending creative writing classes. The locale being academia, his position is honesty about needing to defend the classes, by default admitting they are vulnerable (as well as the students under the teachers he describes), and using occasional humor to do so. I think the following quote sums up the terms nicely, with a strong bit of irony as well...
"I started teaching at the age of forty. In the fourteen years I've been at it I've talked to many students and faculty, and I've reluctantly come to a few conclusions. It hurts to state why I believe students are turning away from literature courses because even at fifty-four maturity is not my strong point, and polemic (strong written/verbal attack) tends to make me either nervous or bored and withdrawn. I do not like a fight and I hope what I say doesn't start one."
This personal honesty by Hugo is refreshing and makes him seem more open and down to Earth. Something readers like myself can find relatable.