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Ms. RB, I’m Hungry

January 5, 2012

Maya is always covered with… something…

I didn’t want to get up this morning.  I’d slept in my jacket again and I pulled the hood over my head as I wrapped the blankets even tighter.

I finally crawled out at 8:30 with the vague sense someone had been visiting.  I was correct.  I saw a young man’s silhouette through the lapa curtains.  “Samuel, how long have you been sitting out there?” I asked.  He shrugged.  Stupid question.

“Thanks for sweeping the yard.  It looks fine.  I don’t have anything for you to do, though, so I’ll see you at school.”  He lingered so I sat down.  We talked small and I asked why he didn’t come to my class yesterday.  I gave him some paper and he copied down the assignment.  I excused myself to work on lessons.  He still lingered and did the bashful, shifty eye thing I knew meant only one thing was coming.  “Ms. RB, I’m hungry,” he mumbled.  “I’m very hungry.”

I’m on slippery ground with him.  First I paid his WAEC fee, then I gave him money to travel home for the season.  He’s doing work for me to earn it, but…  When he first started coming we had a giant branch of bananas another student had given us and I kept sending him away with some.  I sighed.  It felt late to start saying no: I already have a personal relationship with him.  So I went inside and took my bananas off the table.  “This is all I have today.”  He thanked me and left.

This is getting really hard.  I’m starting to get to know my students more personally and, like with Junior last night, am struggling not to rush in and help.  I’m here to teach them math and help them believe in the possibility of the impossible… even if most days I’m full of doubt.  I’m not here to feed them and solve their problems.

I didn’t have much time to dwell on it, though, because not ten minutes later another senior, one of my best, was at the door.  Here we go again, Ms. RB.  Here we go again.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 2, 2012 2:53 pm

    It is so hard wanting to give all of yourself, personally and professionally. But you are giving them gifts that they can use for a lifetime, to work towards a better future.

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