Wednesday, April 27, 2011

a conversation i'll cherish for a while

Today I felt it shift.

“What was it like, moving here at 14?” I asked the caught-off-guard interviewee intently.

It had started out like any of my ACT prep classes did. 7th period. They’re exhausted. I’m exhausted. Both of us trying to make it until the bell finally sounds at three o’clock.

I’d wanted to ask him about it, but the words never came out right. And then there’s the thoughts and questions that followed in my head.
“Is it appropriate to ask?”
“I’m sure he’s tired of answering this one.”
“Am I singling him out in front of the class?”
“What would an experienced teacher do?”

Yada, yada, yada…

I canceled out the last question and allowed Curiosity to take the lead.

The words that followed stirred me. I tried to hide my expression and my growing mixture of compassion and awe that were causing the fatigue mentioned earlier to slowly deteriorate. I was more alert than ever.

“It really doesn’t bother me, Miss Hurndon,” he reassured me.

I presumed.

The more I asked, the more I tried to conceal my emotions that were gripping me outwardly.

His innocent comments on candy moved me. Yes, candy.
“Americans get it anytime. We had to work for it,” he spoke in a heavily accented voice so genuinely.

I was ashamed of the very things I was lecturing about. The very things I was bringing up.

You know…the spoiled American mindset; the expectation to get what you want, whenever you desire it; the need for the gospel to reach so many, while most of us wouldn’t give up our comfortable living situations in an instant to actually stand by our “good news”…etc.

I rambled for a bit.

I found myself speaking my mind at those who didn’t understand, when I was truly speaking to myself.

He’d finished speaking of the death of his parents, when I began to close the somewhat involuntary interview.

“I can’t imagine how you felt. You’re such a strong person,” I said.
That was all that really came out.
Not the most eloquent of my teacher speeches.

So, it had shifted.

This orphaned Ethiopian boy had unlocked something once dormant within me.
And as I tried to disguise my now tear-filled eyes, I knew he’d taught me more than I had even begun to teach him all year.

1 comment:

  1. Allyson Hurndon, this was written so beautifully I feel as if I was in the classroom with you.

    His strength is captivating. oh, the stories this world holds.