Saturday, January 15, 2011
Earthquake Memorial Service
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.