Friday, September 27, 2013

"You're Going Where???"

I tell people that I’m volunteering at a school. They are supportive and encouraging until I tell them where I’m going. Then their faces suddenly look like this:

So of course I can’t help but wonder “What am I getting myself into?”

As I am driving to the school today, I’m going through the “filing cabinets” in my brain-pulling out key points from Johnson, Delpit and Kozol. But in the back of my mind little comments from friends and family keep pushing their way to the front of my mind: “Be careful!” “That neighborhood is to rough for you!” and so on. So now my brain is turning into a whirlwind and I’m more nervous then I was when I left the house. I’m at a red light and tring to calm my nerves I turn on the radio. The song that came on was exactly what I needed. The Black Eyed Peas song “Where is the Love?” I pulled over and just sat there listening to the lyrics:

But if you only have love for your own race
Then you only leave space to discriminate
And to discriminate only generates hate
And when you hate then you're bound to get irate, yeah…

…Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema

Yo', whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness and equality
Instead of spreading love we're spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading us away from unity

After the song was over I took a deep breath and said “Okay, Dorothy, you decide how you think, feel and act-stop listening to the negative and focus on the positive-you are going there to make a difference!”

I walked into the school and met with the Reading Coach. I received training and direction on what I would be doing, as well as a tour of the school. As I saw a group of 2nd grade girls giggling to each other in the hallway and a little boy staring suspiciously at us as we walked by I realized that I was HAPPY I was there and that this will be a great learning opportunity. At that moment I threw all those negative comments and concerned faces into my “recycle bin.”

The saying goes you can’t judge a book by its cover and boy is that the truth! I walked into the school and experienced what many of you described in class yesterday: I walked into a colorful land of Dr. Seuss, smiling faces, construction paper handprint, and rainbow drawings.


  1. Dorothy,
    Your post made me tear up (I know, I'm super sensitive). I love that you turned to music for comfort and that the universe provided you with exactly what you needed. Listening to other's comment is always a difficult and sometimes dangerous thing to do. Our nerves our natural to have in new situations, especially with others comments swirling around in our head, but you kept things in perspective and walked in with the best intentions. You are drawn to this work for a reason. Volunteering in the schools is our way of finding out why. I think you found some answers that day! Shine on!! -Jocelyn B.

    1. Hi Jocelyn,
      Thank you for your positive feedback! I really appreciate it. I agree with you 100% about volunteering in the schools. :) As I was writing the post and thinking about the events of the day I couldn't help but tear up myself! Music is definitely the thing I turn to most when I need comfort, it's amazing how something we take for granted or don't even pay attention to can be such a great help to us. See you in class on Tuesday!