Sunday, July 21, 2013

Things I Haven't Said

I have already finished two grad school classes, and by the end of the summer, I will have completed five as I work towards my Masters in Education and my certification as a Reading Specialist. I realized I had not advertised much on this blog about my plans after finishing a year with MVC, and for many reasons, I hesitated posting my news.

I’ve been back on the East Coast for a little over a month and it still feels weird sometimes, like I will wake up and go out to see my trailer in Arizona. It feels weird to be living in a house that is three stories tall. It is weird to have sidewalks and neighbors everywhere when I had grown so accustomed to the natural silence of the Reservation. It feels weird to have this humidity (I am melting) and more rain in two weeks than in the past ten months.

Something that I haven’t said, that I haven’t admitted to publically, is how much I miss Arizona. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, and there are things I would change if I could, but it was overwhelmingly one of the most important years of my life. I struggled, fought, loved and cried throughout the past years and learned about the type of person I wanted to be along with the type of person I knew I would never be.

I met someone who became my roommate, then my friend, then my sister. Allison and I started out virtual strangers who ended up crying as we said our goodbyes at the airport last month. We wore silly hats as we strolled through Wal-Mart speaking in our fake Russian accents and finding each other by playing Marco Polo (still wearing flamingo-pink straw beach hats). We ran away to the 24-hour Denny’s and got milkshakes at 1 in the morning after the last day of school to reminisce on our first year of teaching. We sang to the prisoners of the Window Rock jail each month, and pressed our faces up to the bars as we held hands with the inmates and prayed with them.

I watched with tears of joy streaming down my face, hugging a coworker as we watched our first class of seniors recess out of the auditorium after turning their tassels. I packed my bags and prepared to leave, fragmented by continual visits to friends who became my family during my year.

The thing I haven’t said, what I haven’t told myself is that it is okay to miss where I’ve been and what I’ve done. Arizona, the Navajo Nation, my students and co-workers and community and friends- they will all be with me forever. It’s okay to miss the places and faces of my time there because it was so important to me.  I promised my juniors I would go back next year and watch them graduate, and it is a promise I intend to keep. I love those kids too much to ever walk away from them, and I already can’t wait to go back and see how much they’ve grown.

It is said that students never forget a good teacher, that they will remember how a teacher made them feel over everything else. I think the same should be said for students. I will never forget my students, how they made me feel because they made me feel alive, like I was doing the right thing. We had our struggles and our successes, but I loved each child dearly, and I hope that even if they forget what I taught them down the line, they will never forget that I tried to make them all understand that they were incredibly important.

That said, I also love my new community and my new city. I love getting to know the people that I will be going to school and living with and meeting my new coworkers. I am excited about teaching in a new school and meeting my new students. I have already designed my classroom in my head and I am near to bursting with ideas for my kids and lessons for this year. I am ready to embark on this new journey and although I am still sad about leaving Arizona sometimes, I know that my memories will sustain until I return. My friends will be my friends although miles separate us, and my students will always be “my kids” no matter where they go in life.

Cheers to the next adventure! 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mother Cabrini

Happy Birthday, Mother Cabrini!

Frances (Francesca) Cabrini established 67 institutions in her 67 years, and her legacy continues through many of those continuous operations, new institutions established in her name, and the work of her order, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She is the Patroness of Immigrants, and my Confirmation namesake.

When she was younger, she was told she was too frail to be a sister and was turned away from some religious organizations. Undeterred, she founded her own. Afraid of the water, she nevertheless traveled the ocean many times to accomplish her work and never backed down, not even from the religious men who scoffed her. Wanting to go to China, she accepted a mission to come to the United States and eventually became the first American citizen (naturalized) to become a Saint.

Mother Cabrini cultivated educators and healthcare workers to fulfill her missions. She taught her Sisters to be compassionate and instilled a legacy of “Education of the Heart” (sound familiar?) in them, teaching them to be loving and kind to their pupils.

I am honored to have been educated with the philosophy of “Education of the Heart” at Cabrini College. I am honored that I had the chance to spend a summer with the Cabrini Mission Corps, and learn more about Mother Cabrini’s incredible legacy. I am honored to take her legacy into my own classroom and implement compassionate teaching and love into my classes.

Mother Cabrini took the missionary world by storm by holding her head high and staying true to what she valued. She accomplished much in 67 short years and her passion lives strong in the MSC Sisters, Cabrini Students and Missioners, Cabrini Lay Missionaries and Companions and all those who have felt touched by her presence.