Here we are, home again. We went to children's camp, on family vacation to Jamaica, and have attended approximately 234098 hours of teacher certification classes.
People keep asking how I'm doing with the transition back to Texas. It would make sense that I'd be experiencing some grief. But you know, there's really only one thought about Haiti that makes me really sad.
It's the first day of school.
In a few weeks Quisqueya teenagers will bounce back down the mountain or wind their ways through the nameless streets of the capital of Haiti. They'll come through the gates onto the dusty drive-through. They'll kiss the cheeks of every single person they pass as they crunch on the gravel and survey the green soccer field, be it five or fifty, on their way to the secondary building. They'll stand on the steps under the mahogany tree, or sit on the cement half-wall next to the little grove of palms meant to hide the electrical boxes. There are two cement picnic tables build around tree trunks, and the ground is rough cobbled stones (note to new people: do not attempt in heels).
The teachers will be mingling outside the first day, meeting new kids. Everywhere you look will be cheek kissing and sparkling white new polo shirts. The teachers will blow their whistles (no bell system due to lack of 24/7 electricity), and everybody will walk down the cement steps, next to the creek bed where the Haitian workers grow corn, past the door to the basement science labs, and up cement steps leading to the basketball court.
And I won't be there.
Sasha will be there. And Valerie, Cannelle, Chafika, Biderka, Virgloty, Anais- my whole discipleship group. But not me.
Gael will there. And Raphael, Sam, Rafael, Mandy, Hans, Emille, Stephen and all the other basketball boys. But not Ben.
Louis Daniel and Rackel and Natasha and Melinda and Randolph and all the other seniors will walk into Senior Transitions and start their college research project. But I won't be teaching it.
I will not give out lockers, assign textbooks, read a parent letter, or show them my classroom library. It will still be in room 36, but I'll be on the C hall of a different high school's second floor, finishing my new classroom for a new crop of students- strangers.
You just can't know what it's like as a teacher to prepare for the first day already knowing all the kids. It's such a relief. The first day is a safe space, not a scary unknown. The first day is a celebration, a reunion, not an awkward ice-breaker, get-to-know-you-game, "about me" survey, diagnostic test-taking day.
I hate ice breaker games. I hate "people bingo", and "two truths and a lie", and forced alphabetical seating assignments. I want to be with my kids. MY kids.
But I won't be there.
At Quisqueya I could identify the owner of every single 10-12th grade backpack.
At Quisqueya I could identify the handwriting of every single 10-12th grade student.
Sigh. Not anymore. Those kids aren't mine anymore; they're somebody else's. And I've gotta go learn 150 new names, new moms, new handwritings and new brightly-colored backpacks.
Orevwa. M sonje ou Quisqueya.