Every once in a while, I get a moment to sit and hear a student share their ideas or experiences. Sometimes their words leave me breathing deeply with joy. Some conversations however can stop the world from spinning and fill your heart with each beautiful word.
“Tell me about when your family had to move to a new apartment.” I ask. She smiles slowly and responds, “Well, I had to help my parents sign the papers… they didn’t know where to sign, so I helped them,” she explains.
She did more than help her parents, she read the contract, translated the gist of it to her parents, and explained the deposit amount and rental agreement. She arranged the paperwork for her family to move into a new apartment.
Earlier that morning, we had the opportunity to sit and talk to her mother. During that meeting, her mother shared the experience of the move and how her daughter helped. Their oldest child is the only person in the family who speaks and reads English, so she translated the entire transaction for her parents.
“Gracias…” her mother continued. She thanked us for teaching her daughter and shared how she wished she would have had the opportunity for an education. The only thing she learned on her own is how to speak Spanish, her second of two languages. She did not speak English.
“Have you ever shared this story with anyone else?” I ask this sweet child. I watch as her head tilts and her mouth opens just a bit. I don’t know if she’s taking a breath or about to speak. There is a pause. I begin to wonder if she is having trouble with my question, but I don’t speak. I wait.
She takes a breath, grins, and says, “I’m not really that much of a people person.”
We both laughed out loud. This sweet child before me, in the process of learning English, is pretty good with her words.