Tuesday, January 22, 2013

One True Thing from Alexis Hire: Good Exists

I was fortunate to have Alexis Hire as a student in one of my 7th grade English classes three years ago. As a student who loved creative writing, who treated everyone in the school with compassion and dignity, and who always fought to understand the authenticity in situations and people, Alexis inspired many people--students and teachers alike. Now, as a sophomore, she continues her love of writing, teaching, and inspiring others. So I am very excited to share One True Thing from a past student who is a hard worker, a compassionate citizen, and a believer in the beauty of hope.

Good Exists
By Alexis Hire

Joy. Happiness. Cheer. In today’s society, where we have very real knowledge of slavery, poverty, and violence it is hard to feel these emotions sometimes. Our joy, our happiness, our cheer, it can be taken away from you in a second after receiving bad news. We become easily aggravated, upset, or mad at someone for the slightest thing. Sometimes, it isn’t even anyone’s fault; one person just becomes the tip of the iceberg for the day and you lash out at them because you are so sick and tired of everything going wrong. Admit it; we’ve all had one of those days. Face it; we’ve all had many of those days.

I have been working with children for a little over three years now. Just about every day I am doing something that revolves around children. Mondays, I teach 6th grade religious ed, Wednesdays, I’m preparing fundraisers to raise money for children going through bone marrow transplants, Thursdays I’m mentoring my 5th grade “little sister” for Big Brother Big Sister, and Sundays I teach 4th grade religious ed. Any other day is up for grabs for any or all of my 10 step-nieces and nephews I gained from my mother’s marriage two years ago. 

I won’t lie; it is frustrating working with all of these children so often in my life. They don’t always listen and things almost never go as I planned them to. I get angry with them and I have even gotten to the point where I want to just walk out of the room and scream as loud as I possibly can for as long as possible. They know it, I know it. Anyone who has ever worked with or has children of their own probably knows that feeling too. The thing is that I have no greater joy than when I am with these children. I have never laughed as hard or smiled more brightly than when one of these children says or does something that only children could get away with. You know that saying, “Out of the mouths of babes”? Yeah, that’s pretty much my life.

I am a sophomore in high school. I am in a class where we talk about war and cultural groups that are being destroyed because of humanity’s selfishness. We talk about mistakes that have been made and the consequences other people have suffered. I have seen pictures of children who are suffering, watched movies that show mothers screaming, begging not for their own life to be saved, but for their children. I have studied the worst of humanity. We have talked about it and tried to make sense of it. There have been times when I’ve wanted to cry because of the hatred that I have seen/read about.  It is hard, knowing this material and then having to carry on with my life as a white, middle class American girl. I know that there are people suffering, but I know that at least for now, there’s nothing I can do. And it sucks.

Maybe that’s why I love working with kids so much. My life hasn’t been nearly as bad as some other people I know, or as many other people in the world, but it hasn’t been easy either. It sure isn’t the life I would have chosen for myself, that’s for sure.  When I see people being kind to one another, choosing the hard path to just be nice when it’s so easy to be aggravated and nasty to each other, that’s where I get my inspiration to teach, to mentor. That’s where I find my strength to keep going in this world. Because that’s the kind of person I want to be. I want my students and my “little sister”, and my step nieces and nephews to know that there are still good people in this world. I want to set the example for them that they do not have to only see bad. That there is good, too. Because there is. 

I find the good in the children I spend my time with. Sometimes with people I work with or my peers, but mostly with the children I love so much. In my life, one true thing that I have learned is to never give up hope. I know that I can’t travel around the world to help people. I know that I can’t travel around the country to help people. But I can do what I can. I can do what I’m good at. I can be an example of the good that is still in this world and show people that kindness and patience do exist. That sixteen year olds that want to spend their time with children exist. That good exists.