St. Mary's is the third place at Loyola I had had the opportunity to provide service to youth's over an extended period of time. Another homework help I was involved with was different because of the specialized attention I was expected to give to one student every week, and the Choice Program where the 'clients' we more likely to change every week than not. In any case, I have started to learn that every person is facing the newest day of their life at the time I meet them. I see a sixteen year old with potential. I've been sixteen, and it feels like it was so far away that I was young and at the same time like time has flown by me. I find it hard to keep up with myself, and it becomes frustrating to teach lesson's I've had to learn on my own, to people who haven't had the chance to learn for themselves.
I have been trying to connect the literature we have been discussing under a general cliche theme, in an attempt to defend my thesis in the most cheesy of ways on a blog and all I have come up with so far in the way of silliness is "Home is where the heart is" and "Home is where you hang your hat". They both bother me to no end in their over simplicity and vastly super-fluffy emotional appeal, yet they both seem to have stumbled onto a certain trend in our discussion. Homelands are most certainly not portable, as we have learned from Wendt, Chandra, Grace and others yet people have an insuperable part of their identity shaped and connected to their 'home' or home life.
Working with Baltimore youth in any facet of serve or social work has revealed to me that not only is the encounter of a youth with a mentor defined by their ages and understanding of themselves but it is limited by the circumstance of their meeting. Contextually, my exposure to the kids is bound strictly tot he school, to Loyola, to the desk, to their uniform, and so my ability to serve them ends there as well.
I love hearing what kids are up to outside of school, it makes me dreamily nostalgic in the best way, and I've noticed that the amount of students telling stories at my table has begun to grow quite a bit (mostly due to me being a pushover for the rules) but I don't mind so much as they all get some homework done. They love to tell stories, they love to feel important, they love to be heard. One of the newcomers Samantha told me with an exasperated sigh that she had to go to work after this. i smiled because it was hard to imagine a second grader hard at work, so I indulged her with a few simple questions. Usually Samantha is quietly silly with her Friend Sidney, they make fun of each other (a lot) but they involve me when they want to share (or make fun of me too) but she has begun to act as though we know each other recently.
She sits there with her big important face on looking at her schoolwork, and tells me very calmly that she works at the hospital, the hospital that her brother stays in with what is apparently a very perplexing form of leukemia. It's a lesson I have learned a hundred times over, and probably will a hundred more and that is that there is a lifetime of home life behind the people I meet. I think back on my own home, my own family,my own life in my homeland and how it has shaped who I am and the people that surround me suddenly have these daunting histories that I couldn't tackle if I had another ten years to devote to each one. It makes the miss communications in language, in culture, in profession that we see in postcolonial literature become more understandable when one tries to understand an entire society full of individual histories and homelands in comparison to another. In a simple way in Hau'ofa's book, the miss communication or class is evident at the conference where class, race, nationality, and profession all seem to be compared simultaneously at the 'medical conference'.