Sunday, November 6, 2011

Things I Hate

Or, "my students tell me how not to get raped."

I can't get this out of my head.

I teach Advanced Literature. We're reading Tale of Two Cities. We often get side-tracked.

For some reason last week, the themes of the book led us to a discussion of modern-day slavery, which led us to human trafficking, which led us to the threat of kidnapping in Haiti, which these kids know personally all too well. In the last two years a handful of business-class Haitian kids at Quisqueya have had cousins or close friends kidnapped.

One of the seniors was saying that being sexually assaulted during a kidnapping was her worst fear. We all nodded in agreement.

Another senior helpfully declared that, "you know you're supposed to throw up on yourself, right. That's the common advice- vomit or go to the bathroom on yourself, so the kidnappers won't...." They all nodded in agreement, voicing assent to his statement that "everybody knows" this advice.

The conversation had been theoretical until this point. It was an a-ha moment for me to realize what life is like for my students on a deeper level.

What 16 or 17-year-old needs to have that "conventional wisdom" tucked in the back of her brain? I'm disgusted that that's in their minds, that there's any reason why it would need to be. Disgusted and angry that instead of solely worrying about college applications and Brit Lit papers, they have that little tidbit stored up in case of need. Ugh. Ugh.

I hate it.


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