Saturday, November 17, 2012

It Only Takes One

Okay, here's your one token anecdote for the week.  I made it a separate blog post because you should really read it.  This really hit me hard this morning and I really wanna share this story with you.  It's a little toot-my-own-horn-esque, but someday, if someone stumbles upon this blog that's worried about traveling to a new place, I want them to see it.  

I'm not sure if I made this clear, but before I came to Reunion, I was really scared.  The most scared I've ever been in my life, actually.  I had no idea what the island would be like, what my daily life would be, what the deal was with culture and change and waaah just everything.  In France, the night before I flew here, I called my parents up on Skype.
I told them that I was too scared, and that I was thinking about not going.  The unknown was just too much for me to handle.  And my mother proceeded to tell me a story about when she used to teach in a school in Florida that had a lot of kids from housing projects.
In particular, my mom remembered one little girl.  She didn't have a lot, and her home life wasn't great, but she came to school every day.  She worked hard and my mom could see her learning over the course of the year.  She could see how diligent and wonderful she was, despite everything.  And even though my mom had some hard times dealing with discipline and teaching and what not, this one little girl, and others like her, made all of it worth it.

"If you don't go to Reunion," she said, "There might be one little girl that needs you.  One little girl whose life you might change.  And if you don't go, how can you help her?"

That's what convinced me.  I would do it for this girl, or boy, that I hadn't met, whose life I had the potential to make better.  No matter what happened, or how scary it was, the idea of abandoning someone - a kid, especially - that I could be helping... it strengthened my resolve like nothing else.

A couple of weeks ago, I started tutoring a 6th grader named Chloe.  She is so precious; all smiles and so smart, but she absolutely hated English.  She had gotten a bad start in English in school (they start English in 6th grade here, so she's just learning the basics), and one of my teachers mentioned to her mother that I might be able to tutor her.

We started off just playing games and going over words, making jokes and just having a wonderful time.  We speak French a lot, but I tell her a lot how French is similar to English, and try to show her that silly old English really isn't all that bad.

Yesterday, I was talking to a teacher and she said, "I just want you to know I talked to Chloe's mom.   She said she can really see how much Chloe is starting to like English.  You're making it exciting for her, and she's starting to see how English can actually be fun.  You've really changed her mind."

No, Chloe doesn't live in a terrible situation.  She actually lives in a really nice apartment.  It's not exactly like what happened to my mom.  But who knows, maybe one day Chloe will use English to do something really amazing.  If I'd never come here, maybe she'd still hate English.  It's small, and maybe it's insignificant, but not to me.  I've found my one little girl that needed me.

That makes everything that's happening here, for better or for worse, worth it.

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