Over the winter holiday, I got to spend a lot of time at home. During this time, the beginnings of something marvelous began to unfold. This year, I’ve been sharing the story of a particular student and their family that’s experienced some traumas and difficulties that I don’t think I will ever be able to comprehend. Although my family has a minimal understanding of the experiences of this family, they have frequently asked me if there’s anything that they can do to help, which I am completely grateful for.
That brings me to my little sister. My little sister is one of the most determined people I have ever met. Sometimes, that determination often comes out as stubbornness. (Sidenote: Let’s keep in mind that I can recognize this as stubbornness because I can be about as stubborn as they come. It certainly takes one to know one!) Well, the thing that my little sister has always and will always be particularly stubborn about is her closet and her belongings. After sharing a room with her growing up and for a portion of our teens, I can tell you from experience that you don’t mess around with the order of her stuff. She wants to keep things in her particular way and that’s that.
And that my friends, is what leads me into my little heart warming story. Before I returned to the Delta, my little sister, who was intrigued about the family aforementioned willingly went through her sacred closet space (and probably some from the attic too — with the help of my step mom) and sorted through her old winter weather gear, picking out old coats that she thought she could part with. These coats were brought back to the Delta in hopes that they would fit the student that my family has seemingly become so invested in.
Today, I pulled that student out into the hall and nonchalantly told them that my little sister was cleaning out her closet and had a few coats that didn’t fit her anymore that seemed to be the student’s size. I asked the student if they would be interested in trying them on and the child’s eyes widened as their head quickly nodded up and down.
So, while my students were in their special class today, I pulled the student out into the hall and laid out the coats on the floor. The student, who had been wearing a “coat,” which was a thin, worn out sweatshirt that was probably twice the size of their body, quickly shed the cloth. Since the weather had gotten cold, the child had never taken their sweatshirt off. It was almost like a second skin. Seeing the child brush off the worn fabric was like observing like a butterfly eager to break from a cocoon. It was an unbelievable moment for me, which I don’t really think I can express on a written word level… One by one, we tried on the coats. Each one fit like a glove, and each fitting came with a barrage of compliments, smiles, and warm-fuzzy feelings. After trying on all of the coats I told the student that they could keep them all and I would pack them up for them to take home with them. I then asked if the student wanted to wear any of the coats out to recess that day and even before my sentence was out, their head was eagerly nodding, “Yes, yes.”
The quiet child did not speak their thanks, but their smile said it all.
Tonight, I will sleep easier, knowing that one child will be staying warmer thanks to my stubborn little sister who willingly spent time cleaning out her closet. So thank you, little sister, for reminding me of the importance of my being here. No matter the impact, large or small, an impact is an impact.
Thank you for reminding me why I decided to Teach for America.