Sunday, September 24, 2006

Smelly hugs

I always have my students give me either a hug or a high five when they leave each day. I remind them everyday that it is because I want them to know when the leave that I care about them. This week there has been one of my students who has been particularly hard to love. He is being watched for ADHD, and sometimes I am amazed that he doesn't go crazy and start pulling apart the bulletin boards. He is brilliant though, so I am sad that he sometimes can't work as hard as his potential shows, because of his behavior. I don't think he bathed at all this week, his uniform has been dirty, and he has been pretty smelly. Even some other students in the class came to me and told me they thought he smelled. So when he came to me for a hug at the end of the day I reluctantly gave him a little hug.

Why is it that the smelly people are the hardest to love? I am not trying to be funny, but really. Smelly people probably need the love the most of all, and they are the people that we so often intentionally forget to see. Whether it is homeless people, alcoholics or immigrants, our society tells us that smelly people are lesser citizens, somewhere between human and not. Strange. Here I am with plenty of hugs to go around, yet I find it hard to hug the smelly ones. I guess this week I gained the perspective that I can hug the smelly kids. I can squeeze those little gems even though I don't want to get head lice or to have to "get smelly". My clothes can get washed, I can change when I get home, and if I get lice, Kaylee my wonderful colleague has already volunteered to help me with the disinfecting process. After all, having to deal with something so small will pale in comparison to knowing that hugging a smelly kid can possibly make a difference in his life. So hug someone smelly this week, or at least recongize them as a person.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

My first month

I know I have been slacking in the blogging area, and now I am going to try and pull everything that I have done and experienced in the last month into a blog entry. If I tried to cover everything, I would probably use most of the infinite space on the I'll just highlight things for you.

I jumped in with all limbs when I first got here. I had exactly 1 day to find an apartment before I started training, so that was stressful and challenging. God is amazing though, and He provided the right place in exactly the right time, 5:30 that night to be exact! Then I began my training as my parents carried things to my aparmtment, ran errands and supported me in a big way! The first week was tough, I was totally out of my element, it was annoyingly hot and I doubted if I had done the right thing. Then my parents left, and I was all alone.

Thankfully I was so busy in meetings, setting up my classroom and getting ready for my students that I barely had time to do anything else. I worked really hard those first couple of weeks, and the work continues still.

School started and with it came my 20 wiggly, squirmy, grubby, lovable little family. I feel like these kids are my family, and in a way I think of them like they are, since my own family is far away. They have so much need, and at times I am overwhelmed at how much I feel like I need to compensate for what they might not get elsewhere. Most of my kids get free lunch and breakfast at school, and they are definitely children from another culture. I saw a baby the other day who had pop in his bottle, and so I don't wonder anymore why I can see cavities on their little teeth.

The school is amazing in all that they provide. I have always heard that people will live up to the expectations that you have of them, and I truly see that at Cloud. We just had parent teacher conferences and every single parent came. That is amazing! We also provide a lot of additional support to parents or families who may be struggling by having parent support, counselors and even free dental clinics for those oh so many cavities.

It is challenging to be here, there are moments when I wonder why in the world did I think this was a good idea. I get frusterated with the politics of teaching and why I can't do what I want when I want, then I come back to my class after a meeting and there they are and I forget all the frusteration. They are truly a joy, and I can honestly say that I love my job.