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Week two: a restored faith in humanity

Thursday morning I was frantically calling the social security office to report my lost social security card. I had already canceled my debit and credit card the night before and had to scrounge $1.50 to get on the Metro that morning. I seriously thought my identity had already been stolen. My teammate Ricky kept telling me that people could open credit cards and accounts with my soc number. My dad told me not to worry because it’s not like I make a lot of money anyways.

Needless to say, I was definitely in a funk that morning during morning greeting. Although I was still chanting and clapping, I was a little less obnoxious than usual. Then out of nowhere my team leader, Lauren, called me over to her and a student and said, “Liz, what if I told you a student found your wallet?”

I couldn’t believe it. A 7th grade student had my little black wallet in her hand and said her and her brother saw me get on the Metro yesterday. I left my wallet on the bench at the stop. So, they picked it up and brought it home to their mom. The student then called her mom and said, “Mom, I’m with her right now and gave her her wallet back.”

We’re not supposed to give students full-on hugs, only side hugs. This deserved a full-on hug. I couldn’t stop thanking her, especially because my social security card was in my wallet. It made me teary-eyed. I need to find this student’s first period class/last name so I can send her a personal thank you and one for her mother too. She’s restored my faith in humanity. I automatically thought the worst, but then was proved completely wrong.

I told my English teacher about the incident and she was astonished. She told me that “City Year must be doing something good here if against all odds my wallet was returned.” But really, it’s true. The students see us in uniform and like us enough to watch out for us. They know we care about them and they care about us just as much.

As the weeks are going by faster and faster, my students are becoming a lot more comfortable with me. That means they’re not afraid to yell out “Ms. Liz” 20 times for help while I’m helping another student or make fun of me. One of my students said, “Ms. Liz, you have bags under your eyes. You aren’t sleeping.” Yes, I’m not sleeping because of you little ones. I told her next Monday I’d come to school decked out in make-up, blush, eye-liner, all the works, so it looks like I slept (because come on, I barely wear make-up anymore).

My 6th graders are working on prime factorization right now. I have absolutely no idea how to do a factor tree or what it even is anymore. Thus, I’ve made a new tally for this year: 6th grade math v. Warden. I’m loosing. Big surprise.

I’ve definitely got a better hint of what students will be on my focus list. One of them, who is my little energetic ball of fire, moved here from the Philippines five years ago. He lives with his grandfather and hasn’t seen his parents since he moved. His English is far behind his classmates and he translate English through Tagalog, not Spanish, so I have yet to figure out how I am going to tutor him because his native language obviously doesn’t have as many English similarities as Spanish does. He’s definitely going to be one of my projects.

Another student, who will be on my focus list as well, wrote on her homework that she “hopes to learn English better.” I hope she does, too. I want to help her succeed and I really hope I can so she can eventually test out of ESL.

Some of the students who won’t be on my focus list are good writers and readers. I seriously don’t think they should be in ESL, but they can’t pass the test apparently to get them out of an English intervention class. Standardized tests suck.

I’ve decided to start documenting “stuff my 6th graders say” because some of it is just too hilarious. For example, one student proceeded to hang out with me and talk about her boyfriend she’s been dating for a year (since the 5th grade). When I asked her if he had met her parents yet, she said yes. These 6th graders are schooling me and probably most of my team – some of us who have never even been in a real relationship! Ahhhh, young, young love.

My first story/profile of the year was published on City Year’s Los Angeles blog on Friday. It’s on my roommate Marissa Jackson, who I am honored to live with as well. Check out the next post for that story.

This weekend, my roommate Jamey and I went to a Peace Corps education panel. RPCVs talked about their experiences teaching English in countries like the Ukraine and Paraguay. Because I was placed in an ESL class and will have 30+ hours tutoring ESL kids by the time of my interview, I could possibly get an English teaching assignment. The three regions that have a large amount of youth development and English teaching positions are in Asia, Eastern Europe and South America. I’ve decided I’m going to preference that I go to South America first, then Eastern Europe. I have to learn a language before applying to graduate school for international relations and think Spanish would be the best bet. Although I’ve been trying, it would probably just be easier for me to catch onto the language in the country. Moreover, Jamey just got his nomination assignment and will be serving in South America (country and actual volunteer project has been yet to be determined). It would be cool to be in a somewhat similar area so we could travel during our vacation days since we’ll overlap our service years by at least one year. Today is the day where I’m hoping to finalize my application and send it in this week (it’s gotta be by Oct. 1!) The panel was really informational about how different school systems are in other countries, the difficulties they faced and how they overcame them. I’d be interested in teaching English, but I’m just scared I won’t be a really effective teacher.

Then, of course, we went to the USC v. Syracuse game. My alma matter v. my first alma matter (I went to Syracuse my freshman year then transferred to USC), so I had to go! I wore my freshman year orientation shirt, but added a couple of things:

Of course USC won. Fight on forever.

Yours in service,
Liz

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