10.09.2008

The Girl Is Miserable At Best...

Mrs.McBrides4th"Sometimes it takes but, a glance."

Slowly we drove down the winding dirt road into yet another field. For the past 12 miles we have witnessed all of 5 houses and 3 farms. The last sign of civilization and society past the 21st century was the local Wal-Mart about 8 miles back. The stomach pain shoot deep into my back. I'm fasting, I'm sleepy, I'm not ready for this. I walk into the small elementary school taking in one slow deep breathe at a time. I know they've never seen one of me before.

Let's not pretend like in this Midwest Podunk town that any of these people are expecting me. I am their student teacher; this is my first day.

There are plants growing in the classroom. No, not plants in a pot. Plants growing from the floor. Second grade is taught in a trailer about 20 ft from the front of the school. The school is a one story building of resentment. Today must be everything I prayed against. What can they teach me?

Suddenly a bright eyed girl with a black hoodie on gleamed up at me "You're beautiful", she exclaimed. "I'm sorry, what?" I asked her. I was in no mood for whatever games these children intended on pulling. Sarcasm isn't appreciated especially not while I'm fasting. It's Ramadan so I lower my gaze and practice some much needed patience. "You're so beautiful and I like that", she insisted. Then, I notice she's glaring at my hijab and pointing at my face.It took me about 2 1/2 hrs with 2 subject changes to calm down. I started to accept the beauty in this run down location. They are content in it all. In a way it was inspiring.

For the remainder of my time at the school I tried avoiding the students who asked unintentionally hurtful comments and the girl in the black hoodie. The last hour before I left the teacher of the class pulled me aside to let me know that her class was ‘special.’ Many of the students were struggling if not internally then externally, if not emotionally then physically, if not academically then medically. Then she mentioned the girl in the black hoodie. The teacher noticed I had been avoiding her and said I ‘need’nt be afraid.” I asked myself why she would think I feared this odd child and her fascination with my scarf. Then it occurred to me that people only fear what they do not understand.

I decided to put my ‘fears’ aside and speak with the girl. "It’s just you are beautiful. Your thingy makes you pretty. I wish I had one too, then I could pretty." All the puzzle pieces began to come together. The girl wasn’t mocking my religion but, trying to identify with it. And, while I was so sure that she was afraid of me I came to realize the roles were reversed. My 'thingy' makes me prettier? I blush. Half of it is due to embarrassment. For the first time since I stepped into this school I now looked into her deep blue eyes to see oceans of sincerity. Half of it is due to my obvious sense of shame. I glared at these kids blaming them for the schools obvious lack of financial support. I tested their intentions, ignoring genuine comments because I 'knew' they would discriminate. I built a wall before they had a chance to offer help.

My 'thingy' does make me beautiful. It makes me different. It makes others judge me based on my insides as opposed to assuming things based on my outside. It provides me with an opportunity. It is the very opportunity I took from each of the 27 unsuspecting students.

What can they teach me?
It was only my first day and yet I think I learned more in 7 hrs than in 7 yrs.

9 comments:

Falling Up said...

Sometimes we get scared of what we're about to face so we put up a barrier. As a result we end up blocking any blessings that come out of the situation at hand; blinding ourselves of any beauty, showing only darkness/hate.

TheGossamerThread said...

Beautiful Post...

Anonymous said...

I know this was not the point of the post, but you always talk about how beautiful you are, or others say you are. Makes me want to see you up front.

Prescribed Placebos said...

It's weird that she grasped the concept of hijab so quickly. Maybe her ignorance to the world made her immune to others' ignorance.

Artistic Logic said...

such a deep post... yes i've known that feeling, of hardening up my heart just because i expect something to be a certain way... and the embarrassment when i realize i was the one to judge quicker....
oh and its not really surprising because children are deeper and more understanding then we are... they're only tainted by what we teach them.... i think they need to be handled SO carefully or WE adults could ruin them by infusing our thoughts into their minds...

......Love said...

Anonymous: Oh my, I swear it's not my intention to come across so appealing. In fact I don't think I'm really that astonishing. Am I fortunate looking? Umm guess you could say so. Really though these are just memories or remarks made by others in light of me.

They are simply anecdotes that I come across in my daily travels.

MRA said...

fortunate looking HAHAHHAHAHAH

Anonymous said...

new layout. I like!

Constructive Attitude said...

wow. that was so deep. i liked it. (kinda of a change from my sarcastic student teaching posts..lol)

but honestly, i had the same wall up the first day. i was judging the school and the people because i was randomly placed there, and it didtn look anything like the school i did my pre student teaching. this school is kinda sorta falling apart. i was miserable that first day, and alot of it had to do with my own personal thoughts and nothing with the students. the next day was different, and i forced myself to be open minded and not judgemental, and alhamdullilah, its been so so so much better ever since.