Last night when I took one of my boys to the Delhi airport for his return flight to the U.S. after a three week visit here, in line behind us were two students who are now doing graduate work at Howard University. They had just completed an internship in India.
We recognized each other as Americans right away. When I casually mentioned during our conversation that I had taught in South Carolina, one of the pair said that in 2005 she had graduated from, of all places, the last building I had taught in, the Academic Magnet High School of Charleston, just before I moved to Colorado in 2001.
She had studied with a great friend who still teaches there, someone I taught and coached when he himself was in high school, and with whom I started the cross country program, a gentleman whom I’ve known for over 35 years now. There were big hugs, a really nice feeling of solidarity with Charleston and the school, and a feeling a shared happiness in our common experience.
There are 1.3 billion people in India. I didn’t run into those two young adults by accident. It was a reminder to me to appreciate the great opportunities we have in teaching. As we gear up for winter, let’s not forget the privilege we have in being able to teach in America’s high schools, to make the connections we sometimes assume we have a right to experience, to forge real and authentic bonds with others in the midst of the outrageous fires now raging in the cauldron of current day education in our country.
The work we are doing can’t be measured. The invisible webs of connectedness we experience with our students are strong and powerful blessings. They make us better people. We are lucky to be teachers, no matter how much we allow it to stress us out. Our work is good and noble. The relationships we build matter, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.
Looking back on almost forty years of what I thought at the time was pure insanity, I now am beginning to see it was the right path for me. I received more than I gave. Let’s do another semester!