My reading students have been working on a research project all session. They chose a research topic of interest to them, and they brought in one article a week about their topic. At the end of the session, they would be required to give a presentation on what they learned. My goal was threefold: to teach them how to evaluate the credibility of all the information they find on the Internet, to improve their oral summary skills, and to practice some critical thinking skills by asking them to synthesize and analyze the information they collected.
Today, we had the presentations. One of my students is from Haiti, a country both I and my students don’t know much about. My student researched the causes of overpopulation in Haiti, and he gave a wonderful presentation. But, it was the question and answer time that really stuck with me. My students were so moved by his presentation, and his obvious passion and concern for his country. They asked questions eagerly, and everyone attentively listened to his answers. He’s usually a relatively quiet student in class, and none of us would have guessed the difficulties he’s faced back home. Students offered encouragement. One student said, “If the young people of Haiti are all like you, then I’m sure your country is going to improve.”
Today, I witnessed my students coming together in support and concern for a fellow classmate. I saw the power of education, which has changed his life, and which he hopes to bring back to his country. I learned that we might accomplish more in classrooms these days than in all the political buildings in the world.
It might be cheesy, but I am grateful for days like today that remind me that what I do is bigger than the four walls of the classroom. I am relieved to know that even when it seems like things are only getting worse and worse, I teach students who imagine better lives for their countries and each other. I really do love my job.