Back to school!!!


back 1

back 2When a new school year begins, teachers display clear signs of a disease of a peculiar kind :forgetfulness. The first day of September you see them advance indolently to work, their faces, altered by a couple of months of holidays under the sun, manifest all the frustration of having been torn away from their lazy summer days to be thrown into the pit again. Believe me, it is a shock. Soon after the first convivial moment, when new and old colleagues are engaged in conversations about the wonders of the past summer days, the usual routine which regards work planning, exam organization and stuff of this kind should get started, but you soon realize that you can’t, because your mind is blank, as you had removed all, even the most common operations you’ve repeated every single year. What would a Freudian psychologist say? That we have put a veil on everything we reject of our job and hidden in a remote part of our mind and now, that is about to surface again, we are under stress, maybe. That’s why I am about to tell this story again, because I want it to be a reminder of what I do love of my job.

back3Some years ago, my husband and I joined a program of long distance adoptions in Paraguay. The idea of helping the minors of the poor countries and their families, providing them with an economical help, so that they could receive the primary goods, education and the medical care they need, made us feel, I don’t know, better people, if I may say so. Once subscribed, after few weeks, we received a letter with all the personal data of the adopted child, which, unexpectedly, turned out to be a very exciting moment, as we hadn’t had the name of the kid yet. I still remember my husband slowly unfolding the letter, looking at the picture and saying with a big smile: “it’s a boy”.

His name was Wilfrido. In the picture, a little brat of about five was doing his best to show us his gratitude with a big toothless smile, even if he seemed a kind of uncomfortable in his brand new school pinafore, maybe too large for his age. Once our adopted son had materialized in that picture, we started to be pervaded by a strange sort enthusiasm. We began to think that we might do many things for him, for example providing him with a high school education and even more, Harvard, Stanford, why not?Β At a closest inspection of the picture, the boy didn’t really look like the student type, but maybe I was wrong.

back 4Wilfrido didn’t pass the first grade that year. We were shattered .Fortunately, the following years went much better. He eventually learnt to read and write, even Maths. When he improved enough to write a letter, he started to give me information bout his life and family. I was particularlyΒ impressed when he told me that he usually reached school on foot walking for seven miles (!!!) or on horseback. He also added that he liked studying after all. But one day, we were informed that Wilfrido and his family had left the village and I have never heard from him since then. I was disappointed, maybe I could have done more to give him the opportunity of having a better future, maybe.

Few years later, I would have seen the whole experience from another angle. I was in San JosΓ¨, in Costa Rica and I needed some directions. One boy offered to write down the address I needed for me ; I could have written it myself, but just he didn’t let me do it. He picked a pen and diligently started to move it on a piece of paper, as if he were drawing. It took him five endless minutes to write that piece of information, but somehow we didn’t dare hurry him even if, I confess, we were a little annoyed. Eventually, he handed me the note. I soon noticed that his handwriting was incredibly neat and elegant, but it was only when I met his eyes that I could clearly see that sparkle, I saw his great satisfaction, pride and dignity. He smiled. He might be one of the many Wifrido that people the world. I had done something good after all.That’s why I teach. Because I think education can make people conscious, stronger and free and even because I feel useful every time I see that sparkle in the eyes of one of my students. Wish you a great new school year. πŸ™‚


35 thoughts on “Back to school!!!

  1. Stefy I want to stand up and cheer after reading your post. The story of Wifrido and the boy in Costa Rica warm my heart. I can’t imagine the patience and energy it takes to be a teacher. Thank heavens for angels like you in this world.

    • I’m pretty sure that at the word “angel” many of my students would just jump on their seats. I’m not the angel type, Sue πŸ˜‰ but, I don’t know, maybe I am πŸ˜€

      • Oh reading about all the creative things you do in your classroom and how you inspire those students I believe that makes you an angel even in the face of adversity. πŸ™‚

      • You are not an angel, it’s true. I did jump on my seat, it’s true. But you know how to teach, and you are kinda the only one. Being an angel it’s not necessary – you know πŸ™‚ thanks for 4 years of great lessons, and classes.
        best wishes
        ps. I’m sorry for the voodoo doll (?) πŸ˜› i swear I’m not using it anymore

  2. It is heart warming to get letters and photos from these children Stephy. Education is a gift that many take for granted.

  3. I found this reading truly interesting… Particularly those excerpts in which you made reference to the shock heading the usual routine.
    The same thing happens to me after summer holidays. But in your case the Freudian interpretation makes more sense… (i.e “to put a veil on everything we reject of our job and hidden in a remote part of our mind and now, that is about to surface again, we are under stress).
    I love your writing!!!. And least but not least, the cartoon at the very beginning is outstanding πŸ™‚
    All my best wishes to you with the new school year ahead, Aquileana πŸ˜›

  4. I enjoyed reading your post. I found your story very endearing but bitter-sweet in that you never got to know what happened to your Wilfrido and he missed getting to know you more. The mystery and magic of life!

    • Yes, it was such a pity. We even helped another boy for a couple years, but even this one moved to another village and never heard from him. Maybe, we should try with a girl next time πŸ˜‰

  5. As a colleague of yours I agree with you. My heart is like a field where a battle takes place…when a new school year starts. The worst side of it is that bunch of people you see like phantoms crossing the line of their emotions in search of ” information”…who are they?teachers! Welcome to Italy!.

  6. fabulous to find your blog, not a teacher but I know that fresh lovely feel we all have after summer holidays & how after such a short time back in the daily work routine it’s as if the lazy days of summer never were πŸ™‚ Great post, I loved it.

  7. well I’d say you are the angel type for sure – great posts and fun comics. Peace πŸ™‚ and may you have a blessed and safe school year as you touch lives and give these kids you. πŸ™‚

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