Monday, April 20, 2015

You Are The Superhero

Monday nights, for me, can be brilliantly fun one week and reduce me to near-tears the next. Students will do that to you.

Francis, the boy I tutor on those illustrious Monday nights, is in third grade but reads around a second grade level. I wrote a blog about him in February last year and talked about how some books can be breakthrough books. Today I’d like to focus on something I’ve learned from working with Francis and his refugee family.

The human brain is phenomenal, and Francis’ capacity to learn blows my mind. When I think of how we scrambled along the path from let’s-learn-the-alphabet-today to read-me-this-chapter-book, I honestly can’t remember how it happened. I just know that it was hard. It was so hard that there were several times I wanted to give up.

The main reason I didn’t give up is because one day, Francis’ mom yelled at him for not paying attention. It was dinnertime, it was bright and warm outside, and we’d already been working for half an hour. I got it: He was tired. I didn’t think he really deserved to be yelled at, but what his mom said that day has stuck with me ever since:

Francis! Michelle te sauve la vie. Écoute-moi ! Tu vas lire ces livres, parce qu’elle est ici pour te sauver la vie !
Francis! Michelle is saving your life. Listen to me! You are going to read these books, because she is here to save your life!

I thanked her, and I’m pretty sure I blushed. Saving his life? We were just trying to learn the alphabet… I couldn’t see how my tiny, one-hour-one-night-a-week could possibly make a difference in this family’s life.

Fast forward nearly two years: In recent months, Francis and his little brother have shown an excitement for books and for school I never thought would exist. This excitement can lead to great things, not the least of which is breaking the cycle of unemployment and poverty that has this family in its vise grip. Francis is growing more confident in his reading skills and with that, he's growing more confident as a person. I am a witness to the influence of learning and reading, and while I know that nothing happened because of my own power, I am beyond thankful that I was even able to be a part of it. 

Francis’ mom was right. Any time you volunteer your time to tutor or build houses or do any other pro bono work, you are saving a life. I truly believe that we are all here for a reason. You are a superhero.

Incidentally, Michelle is dressing up as plainclothes superheroes for Beyond the Trope's trip to Denver Comic Con this year. Coincidence? Yup.

No comments:

Post a Comment