I know, I know.
“Alexii, you don’t write anything for this long and then you post a title about ‘love’ on VALENTINES DAY?”
Well, readers. You are correct.
Alex and I have never been Valentines Day people. I always sort of enjoyed the “Gal-entiines” option before it was coined a term. Alex was probably home playing FIFA.
But as an observing teacher now in the New York City Public School System, I’ve come to appreciate it a little bit more. Yes, it’s corny. But as Rena so eloquently put it in her weekly newsletter Current.ly (WOMEN! Stop whatever you are doing and go sign up for this newsletter!) maybe the corniness of the holiday can remind us to show care–to simply, love.
A Current.ly reader submitted the following quote to Rena for the week–an issue on Caring Well.
“I remember, years ago, complaining about Valentine’s Day, calling it Single Awareness Day. One of my closest and most honest friends later said to me, ‘There are people without moms on Mother’s Day or dads on Father’s Day—you’ll be fine.'”
As someone who grew up without a Dad on Father’s day–you can probably guess that this hit really close to home.
So this brought me to my “subway thought” (let’s be real…you are In Transit for hours a day…you’re thinking about something!) on love. Let’s talk about love more often!
Love who you know. Love what you do.
I love to write. I love English. I love traveling. I love linguistics and philosophical conversations and learning.
And today, I would love to share with you some stories (names changed of course for privacy) from my ELLS (English Language Learners) in the Bronx.
The school is an international school meaning that it is all high school immigrants. In New York City, you have the right to a free public education until 21 years old. Needless to say, I have to work hard for respect in the classroom I’m visiting. You get a group of rowdy high school boys and a young teacher barely 5 years older than them? It’s everything you’d expect. Once I expressed that I understood Spanish, everyone calmed down a little–but overall– I get it. There are students in this class who are already mothers and fathers. There are students who quiet literally escaped Civil War in Yemen. To them, I’m just “this white lady” visiting to help with their English. One of the girls in my class had trouble understanding a word. When I tried to explain it in Spanish, I thought she was laughing at me:
“That bad, huh?” I said with a smile.
“No, your accent is good. Thank you for trying.”
I earned her respect by trying–and it didn’t take much effort. If I’m asking her to try in English…it seemed only fair.
These kids deserve love–they deserve to see our love for education and experiences–our love for trying something new. As immigrants, they need to be reminded of our love for America and what really makes it great. Most importantly? They need to be reminded of our love for them.
Amman* has been in the United States from Yemen for a month. He and his cousin moved together (there is question if all family members were able to make it back into the United States) and both seek after school and Saturday school help. Carrying an Arabic dictionary to each class, I have never seen a sixteen year old so determined.
Louisa and Rosa* are also cousins and have been in ESL classes for years. The two are in the equivalent to the 10th grade and are nineteen years old. Both women strip at a local club to help support their families.
And finally, there is Tomas* who works forty hours a week. We are uncertain if he has children of his own, but definitely works to support his mother. He is happy to “have the chance” in this country.
I met all of these students and learned these stories on my first day.
So today–go out. Be corny. Eat Chocolate. And then the next day? Show someone you care. And then the next day? Tell someone else how much you love and appreciate them. After that?
Commend someone. For we are all trying in our own ways more than any one ever acknowledges.
To end, a few photos of those that I am so grateful for.
Family (NYE 2017)
Friends you’ve known so long…they’re family (Christmas 2016 in Wilmington)
Mythos (Who we got as a pup 3 years ago as of February 9th!)