Samuel spoke about “being rebellious.” Back in front of his house, his uncle spoke about Samuel quitting school, being from “a small pueblo with nothing...and a fishing village where his family are ‘just fishermen.’” Today, Samuel is thriving. He learns everything the first time it is taught. No one would have ever guessed his back story.
I like the saying and have decided to put it up in my room:
“Don’t be afraid to start over. This time you are not starting from scratch. You are starting from experience.”
There are so many challenges our new arrivals face, but one of the beautiful opportunities of being a new arrival is the opportunity to “start over with experience.” When Samuel was surprised at the lack of discipline one of my other students had, I talked about how his routine of getting up at 3:30 AM every day to catch/sell fish, his required midday walking of the goats, and his evening routine of setting shrimp nets taught him how to work hard. “It was a gift your parents gave you. You know how to work hard.”
Samuel replied, “Yeah, I didn’t understand why my parents were the way they were, now I understand it.” Quitting school and working full time with his parents, gave him the experience he needed to start over in school.
These three students and the thousands of others in our classes have the opportunity to “start over with experience” when they come to the USA - and we can learn from them. This past year, everyone was new to dealing with the challenges COVID brought to us. For some, things went well. For others, we really struggled. We were all beginners. Soon the school bells will ring and we will be heading back to the second half of the year. When we come back though, this time we come back with experience. It is a great time to apply what we learned and start fresh. There is an old proverb that says, “Where there is no vision, people perish.” As the new year starts, students don’t need nor want “toxic positivity” (Pretending that the challenges didn’t/don’t exist and weren’t/aren’t hard.) But with their experience, students can create a vision or goal they can optimistically work towards accomplishing. Through intentional social and emotional support, we can help our students be their best version of themselves. We can help them have a vision for 2021.