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The Way is Up

March 3, 2013

The Sky is the Limit

I haven’t been writing much the past few months because, as my service comes to a cross roads, I’ve pushed my nose yet closer to the grindstone.  In a few short months I will leave Sanniquellie and, pending a few clearances, start a new chapter at Tubman University in Harper.  It’s exciting and terrifying, the same mix of feelings that I had leaving America.

Sanniquellie is my home.

As the days start to number themselves I race to squeeze just small more out of each one.  But whereas my final days in America were focused on what to take, here I find my thoughts turning to what will remain.  What legacy, what path, can I leave for my city, my students, my family, after I go?  How can I ensure that the people I love will be ok after I go?

I can’t.  All I can do is clear a path, point the way, and hope they’ve learned enough.  This part, the trusting and turning away part, is the hardest.

The past few months have been all about my seniors.  Last week I submitted eight applications for EARTH University in Costa Rica.  The students had been working on them since November, collecting documents, writing essays, and endlessly rewriting essays.  Whatever happens I hope they are proud of their hard work.  Most of them have never spent that much time on a piece of writing and there was plenty of cheering and “bawk! bawk!”-ing as I packed each one in the ‘finished’ pile.

I also had two students from last year apply for government scholarships in Botswana.  It was amazing turn around and one of those weeks that makes me reconsider my position on god and prayer.  (It works in Liberia.)  We had exactly ten days to complete the application and get the boys to Monrovia for birth certificates.  The moment I saw the posting online I called Prince and told him to drop what he was doing and come to the internet café.  We started working on his CV and essay immediately and I sent him to find Romeo.  “Do you have people in Monrovia?  Call and tell them you’re coming.”

Two days later they were in a taxi running to Monrovia.  “Be strong, my sons,” I said.  “Be clever and polite but don’t back down until someone helps you.”  They did exactly that.  The first and last time either of them had been in town was for EARTH interviews last June, but three days later they were back in Sanniquellie, documents in hand.  By the grace of god my office was able to submit everything in time and we’ve entered the waiting phase.

None of these students could have applied without me and without the help of my office.  That’s what makes it so difficult to leave.  I want to see the right things happen for the right people and that will be hard to facilitate when I leave Sanniquellie.  So much here depends on who you know.  For most of my students I am the only person they know with the power to open, or even knock on, doors.  I know they are strong and they will be ok, but it isn’t easy.

Last year I watched my favorite student—the class deuce and the WAEC deuce—go off to teacher training college while people from the bottom of his class enrolled at Cuttington and University of Liberia.  He just started his assignment as a student teacher, pitching phonics to a classroom jammed with pre-primary kids.  This injustice has weighed heavily on my heart and I don’t want to see it happen again this year.  These kids deserve more.  Yes, Liberia needs talented teachers.  But she also needs strong, ethical ministers and not everyone is qualified to do both.

If I could choose one thing to remain after I go it would be hope.  As much as I’ve taught math it’s gone hand in hand with hope and strength.  Advanced math is important not just for a grade but because there is hope of passing the WAEC, of going to college, of using it as engineers, agriculturists, and doctors.

The way, my children, is up.  The path is made by climbing.

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.”

                                 – The Alchemist
4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jen Hamel permalink
    March 3, 2013 2:01 pm

    So proud of you, Bekka.

  2. blondie permalink
    March 3, 2013 2:43 pm

    Congratulations Bekka. You’ve overcame many barriers in your time there, personal and professional. You’ve helped your students overcome not just logistical barriers but spiritual ones, to give them hope and belief that they can do these things! That they can help themselves and others, too! I’m excited to see where your journey goes from here! ❤

  3. Andrea Penn permalink
    March 3, 2013 3:14 pm

    I’ll be continuing to praying for you and your students…prayer does work, even though we don’t get the answers or resolutions we always want. I hope you are well, friend, and it is good to read about your life 🙂

  4. March 3, 2013 3:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I am sure that many of the families and students will feel your absence in the community. What you are doing is amazing. Take care and safe journey.

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