Friday, October 19, 2012

i want to be korean.

these past two weeks have been a lot of scurrying about trying to get our students information in order - we have a shot at joining part of our program to a much larger international organization and in order for it to happen, we need data. who are our kids, where they come from, why donors might be called to help pay for their education.

at the last minute (i'm a slacker) i had to bring all of the folders home and finish the data sheets for the kids i hadn't gotten around to. except, when we got home, we discovered that a horrible virus had deleted everything on the memory stick and left us some trash called "porn" and "sexy". nice.

it was a long saturday - and thanks to the help of jewel - it all got done, just in the nick of time.

sometimes, when the pressure is on like that, i lose the fact that these are children - not data. it becomes a rush to get things together and type things in and answer all the right questions, it's no longer about forming relationships and getting to know our kids so that we can answer the questions.

in the transfer from the computer i wasn't just left with lovely porn apps and erased files, i had lost most of the heights and weights we had taken and the "dreams" of our kids. so i got to do it again - and i'm so glad that i did.

in the three-year old room, the kids want to be lightning mcqueen and "trucks" and some of the girls want to be mommies. their dreams are the dreams of so many others - not really understanding what it means when you ask them what they want to be when they are "big." a little guy told me, "but i am big. i take care of my baby sister."

the four-year old room was similar - i want to be a car. i want to be a truck.

and then it got sad. a kindergardener told me she wanted to be a prostitute, mouthing the word with no sound and then changed her mind and told me, "no no, i'd rather be a teacher." one of the boys told me nothing. when i dug a little deeper he said he doesn't want to work, he'd rather stay at home all day long. he lives with a dad and an aunt and mom sends money from some foreign country to maintain them all - just barely not-in-poverty.

the little girl who wants to be a nurse that gives needles and the boy who want to work in a skateboard shop were overshadowed for a minute by those dreams. we want these children to know their potential - and while that might not mean becoming a doctor, it's not impossible. and if the girls want to be mommies, that is more than fine.

my favorite response was from one of my favorite students (i know we're not supposed to have favorites but....) he's been with us for two years now, and we've been able to see such an amazing transformation in not just him, but his family as well. where dad was only semi-present before, he is involved now in many processes of this boys life - from paying for school and doing homework in the evening. mom stops by to chat. and the interest they've re-taken in their son has made all of the difference. but, this sweet boy has an identity conflict - his mom is haitian and his dad is dominican, and he just doens't know where he fits into all of that. he explodes when the other kids call him haitian at one moment and defends his haitian roots at others. he tells me he can't get a birth certificate because no country wants him (it's really way more complicated than that, but that's what a child sees).

so, when i asked him what he wanted to be when he grows up, i had to suppress a laugh when he responded, "coreano." he wants to be korean. what? he says that it would be better for him - he'd know where he was from and that he could help kids like him, just like the koreans have helped him so much.

on the list of things we want to be when we grow up, that has to be the most profound. this child who doesn't know where he belongs, knows that he wants to help other kids who don't belong.

not data. children. with dreams.

No comments: