Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Tuesdays are long days for me. I teach 5 different classes on Tuesdays, with 5 different sets of copies to be made, assignments to be written on the board, and graded papers ready to be returned. It's also the day we get our once-a-week, 4-hour laundry shift on the campus machines. All this to say, it's busy.

This was not an ordinary Tuesday. Or, it was, until the middle of the morning. I was getting a class full of girls settled as they entered my room from a passing period, when a senior ran in:
"Mrs. K, _______ is having a seizure!"

I ran in the hall and there's a ring of kids- like when a fight breaks out. I yelled at them all to go to class. Of course nobody moves. The student is on the floor in the middle of the hall, having a seizure. Laying on her back, eyes closed. Just like in the movies. I've never seen one before. Tony got there first from his math class, and he was holding her head. He had told some kids to run for Miquette, our school nurse. We kept telling the kids, "GO TO CLASS."

A friend of this student happened to have the student's mother's cell phone number. Tony called her. Amazingly, the mother happened to be on campus already, in the administration building.

Another minute or two went by. Miquette arrived. She asked me to take off the girl's necklace. All the kids were gone by then, in class. The student stopped moving her arms and legs, but her eyes kept racing, unresponsive. Miquette went and got the stretcher from her office. The student's mom arrived, along with a younger sibling (how scary for a little sibling to see!).

At this point, the mom and Miquette had the situation under control. The student started to become still. Opening her eyes a little. I went back to my class.

They were all praying. They were standing in a circle, holding hands, praying. My breath caught in my throat, and I started to cry a little. Two girls made a space for me and held my hands and they went around the circle.

They went back to their desks. They fixed each others' mascara. I patted everybody's backs. I told them she was ok, and that her mom was here, and that they were going to the doctor. They asked a lot of questions- what causes epilepsy? What do you do if someone has a seizure? Can a seizure make you die? And we took a collective deep breath. Literally- we did it together.

And then we started to look through the papers I'd just handed back, the rough drafts of their research papers on illegal immigration. And it felt weird for a minute, disrespectful, like I shouldn't try to make us think about topic sentences and MLA format when something so shocking and scary just happened, when the tears aren't even dry on everyone's faces.

But we did.

It kind of reminded me of the earthquake. The "oh my gosh, what is happening!"
followed by "what just happened? That was scary and horrible"
followed by "ok, what do we do now?"
followed by "well, maybe we should do what we normally do."

We started school at Quisqueya somewhere around 15 days post-quake. We worked on Latin vocab, and read Romeo and Juliet. We just kept moving. We all felt weird, and knew something big had happened, but...

So that was this morning.


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