Life in Words
Constructing meaning from a black perspective
This past week I had memorable experiences with my students that revolutionized and helped me understand how to approach my role as a teacher, program director and human being.
This week I helped a student prepare for an upcoming speech tournament and we had time to talk. She shared with me her experience in the foster care system and we began to start on the journey of framing her story for a speech.
We discussed the struggles and trials of being in a system that at times does more harm than good. The struggle of going from home to home or house to house without any feeling of true care. She mentioned to me how she was placed in situations where she was responsible for the grunt work and often heard her foster parents talk about what they want to do with money and... she cried. It then led to a discussion about the family unit and how the system is set up. Why is that as a society we value love and understand the importance of a family unit yet fail to insure that our future are taken care of?
I am currently reading all about love by Bell Hooks and she highlights the importance of family and how the parent-child bond are fundamental to our understanding of love. For most it is our first impression and definition of love.
How does this apply to those who in the foster system?
The impact on my students life was unforgettable and still to this day she is working to overcome vision and terrors of the past.
Have you ever been so caught up in work that you forget to slow down?
I decided to slow down this week and talk with my students on a personal level. (Little did I know that these conversations would both turn into 30 minute emotional filled events.) I talked with one student and I asked her a simple question, "Do you value herself?"
I watched as her eyes began to fill with tears. She said, "No."
She then proceeded to tell me how she struggles to believe in herself and can not see herself as beautiful. Although she had some support and positive reinforcement something was stopping her from believing. Social comparison, GPA, and overall a self image that was not positive.. she cried.
My heart was torn as I realized my job was less about getting her to focus on college but at the moment to be a support system for life, to make her believe in her potential, and to affirm her greatness until she saw it. SO that is what I did.
Here I am trying to get kids inspired and to believe in this power of education while lacking the ability to understand that before my students can believe in anything external (education, love, other people, etc.) they must believe in the value of themselves. Working with first generation, low income students of colors is a dynamic population.
The interactions I had with my students changed my focus to the following theme:
Help them learn to love everything about themselves.
Then help build them into an unstoppable force."
I moved the conversation to the person. Do you see your own value? Do you love yourself? Do you think you can?
If not. That is square one.