Monday, March 23, 2009

I don't even know her name

' I don't know her name', I am thinking as she is bear hugging my torso, nuzzling into my arm. She walked down from the Colonia neighborhood with her 3 grand kids looking for English class. I told her it was tomorrow and she came back to be the first of Walter, our incredibly talented recent high school graduate who is volunteering for us. He has stepped up to the plate and let's me throw him into this small class, which he takes on with great confidence. I was in the computer lab with another small group of kids from the Colonia. They wanted to get on the Internet so we looked up Honduran Futbol teams. When I came in at the end of class, Walter had his students standing in a circle passing around a broom stick, taking turns introducing themselves.
She asked if she could bring more students, she said there were ' montones' of people who wanted to learn English in the Colonia. I told her if they were serious, we could handle 20 people. The next day as kids from school are waiting to get picked up from our student-run after school program, one 9th grader comes in and tells me there are 20 people standing outside the gate.
I went outside and there they were, about 4 families ready to take advantage of a little

edu-macation! This group has returned, most, anyway, twice a week for the past 3 weeks. They are bringing their own notebooks and are beginning to smile.
Back to her. She tells me the first night we met that her daughter, the mother of these new students is in the Coxen Hole public hospital, very sick. She has come to class, accompanying her grand kids and making sure they stay focused on the material. Tonight I watch her slowly begin to copy each letter of the English words her 8-year old grand daughter has written. I come over to her and she tries to slip her awkward, messy writing under that of her granddaughter. I found out her name is Guadalupe. I tell her we are ALL learning, this is what we are here for. She continues to copy, I tell her to write each word 3 times until she feels like she got it.

This Woman, rough and soft, knows the hardships of this world. You can see it in her strong, bulky hands and in the deep laugh lines around her eyes. She is well past the age of a ‘student’ in this country and has yet to master writing the correct from of the letter ‘S’. She knows that ‘There is no knowledge that is not power’. She corrects her grandchildren with quick, physical gestures, struggling to ensure that hers will survive.

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