Saturday, January 15, 2011

Earthquake Memorial Service

 On Tuesday afternoon the 7th-12th graders held a memorial service. We did not have school on Wednesday, the 12th, so each family could do their own thing for the anniversary of the earthquake. You can see Steve, our director, speaking to our kids. On his podium you can see three photos of the only student we lost in the earthquake, a 6th grader named Coralie. Her friends, now 7th graders, spoke about the moment when they heard she was trapped in her home with her mother, and how they cried like they had never cried before. They talked about how much they loved Coralie.

Bianca, a 12th grader, also spoke. Bianca was one of the only two 11th graders left at Quisqueya last spring. She was the only girl in her grade, and as it ended up, I ate lunch with Bianca almost every day last spring. When there are only 24 kids total in 7th - 11th grade, and only 4 teachers, there aren't really "lunch table cliques"; we kind of all mixed together, which was special. Bianca and I spent quality time together on the Senior Retreat to Seguin, and she's in my discipleship group now. She spoke about last spring- sharing the campus with the army, having English class in my apartment living room, the Snack Shop operating til midnight to feed all the doctors coming and going at odd hours. She confided that last spring at Quisqueya, while being a great time of personal tragedy for her, was one of the greatest times of her 12 years at QCS.

She ended her talk by saying that one teacher was a great friend to her last spring, who had been there for her and was like a second mother- Mrs. K! It was the most incredibly affirming moment of my year of teaching. I want to treasure it, to capture or seize it. Then I can conjure it up and roll around in it on those days. It was the warmest of warm fuzzies.

I mention this on the blog not because I want to wave the "I'm awesome" banner. I mention it because there are people in my life who don't really understand what we're doing here. There is an organization that has concerns about funding us because we're "not doing evangelism". A person close to me recently heard that some kids at my school have Blackberries, so therefore we're not doing missions because my students "aren't that poor".

I guess I just want to justify to myself that the students here have deep wounds, and that they are my flock. We talk about how to make an MLA Works Cited page, and we talk about their dates on Friday. Teaching here is very enmeshed- I live and eat and work here. My colleagues and I watch movies in our pajamas together. My whole class comes in my house sometimes. I see them at the beach, when I'm out on a date with Ben, and every single time I go to the grocery store (Steve jokes that a trip to Eagle Market should count as 4 parent conferences). They need adults to love them, and I do that. They need adults to bust their chops sometimes, and I do that, too. And sometimes - I hope every teacher, and parent, can relate to this- I feel like I suck at it and I'm not making a whit of difference and they're all sitting in the same place they were in August, not having learned anything from me. But last Tuesday, Bianca said different.

Maybe one day I'll be more secure and I won't need that kind of affirmation. I'll just do the best I can and be fine with that; I'll never question whether I'm good at my job or ask silent existential questions when I'm locking up my classroom and walking out of the building. Maybe it's lame to get affirmation from teenagers; certainly living for the approval of teenagers is a good way to be a horrible teacher, or parent. My colleague Art says we should be the kind of teachers they'll appreciate in ten years.

But last Tuesday, what Bianca said meant the world.



  1. I began following you guys right after the earthquake b/c a friend of mine told me about the blog. You don't worry about all the silly things people say. You are making an impact, which is more than most are doing. You guys have helped lead me in a direction that I believe eventually will take me oversees to live and love as you do. Keep your head up. You are doing God's work and He is pleased with you. Thanks for sharing this journey with all of us. I pray for you guys.

  2. You've been with them during this long year of recovery. You've loved them, provided a safe place for them to learn, and pointed them in the right direction. Mostly though, God and they themselves will determine where they go. Thanks for what you both do.

  3. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor." - Luke 4:17-19

  4. Hi! I found your blog though friends, I lived in Haiti and taught 2nd grade at QCS- I taught Bianca (loved her!) I KNOW that what you are doing makes a difference and pray that the Lord continues to bless your ministry. In Christ,
    Shannon (Wilson) Hartman

  5. Hey Katie, I discovered your blog via Ruth's. I taught English at QCS as well, for about 7 years, middle school and high school. Just tell those mission groups who don't want to support you that when we do our jobs well at QCS, our alumni are the ones who come to the rescue of the desperately poor when disaster strikes. I am so thankful for the students I taught. They were the ones standing beside the doctors in operating rooms, interpreting for them, all day - all night. They were the ones raising money like crazy to staff hospitals, buy medicines, provide basic necessities to the needy. They were the ones who packed container after container with water, food, medicine, toiletries, clothing, and found the money to ship it all into Haiti AND who had the connections needed to get it to the people, not leave it sitting in customs to rot. If we want to truly change Haiti, we must change the hearts of those who hold the purse strings and the time to start is when they are children, students. So... sorry, but that mission group thing just boiled my berries. Bless you as you serve.

  6. I really appreciated Kathie's comment, especially this:

    "If we want to truly change Haiti, we must change the hearts of those who hold the purse strings and the time to start is when they are children, students."

    I think it's only normal to be insecure in your first year of teaching, no matter who or where you are. As long as you feel God has led you to teach, just keep doing what you're doing. :)



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