I Won’t Be Silent

I hate to get political. Mainly because I hate arguing and confrontation and that’s all it ever seems to bring. It makes me so anxious. It is making my skin crawl just thinking about it.

But today and in the future, I cannot be silent.

There are people out there that are preaching hate and I do not stand with them. My heart aches that people in this country that aren’t white have to be afraid of walking on the streets in fear of what someone might do to them. That people of color don’t feel comfortable in a country that is supposed to be the land of the free for ALL people. That they are constantly being made to feel less than white people.

It makes me angry. It infuriates me to my core. It breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes that there are so many people in this world that believe that anyone who is not white is inferior. News flash, God made every person. And He made us equal. God doesn’t care what we look like on the outside. He cares about our heart.

He tells us in Hebrews 12:14, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” God is clear about His expectations for how we should treat others. He tells us that the greatest commandment is to “love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34).” He doesn’t say “love those that look like you and believe the same things that you do.” He doesn’t say “love those that have the same lifestyle as you and those that hold the same values.” No, he simply says to love one another. No prerequisites. No questions asked. It should not matter if someone does not live the same type of lifestyle we do. It should not matter what the color of someone’s skin is or what country they are from. It shouldn’t matter, yet our country has shown time and time again that it does. And, frankly, it pisses me off.

White privilege is real, y’all. Whether we want it to be or not, it is and we have to recognize it so that something can be done. It starts with us. As much as I dislike it and want it to change, the truth is that right now we have the power and the voice, and it will likely not change unless we stand up for our brothers and sisters. We don’t necessarily have to speak for them, but we have to give them the platform to speak and be heard.

We have to call out hate and discrimination when we see it. Even if we lose “friends” along the way. Even if it makes us uncomfortable. That’s the point. People of color in this country are uncomfortable daily. The discomfort caused by denouncing hateful behavior is minuscule compared to what they face each day.

What happened in Charlottesville is NOT OKAY. The white supremacists that so hatefully said “they needed to take their country back”: NOT OKAY. The terrorist that plowed his vehicle into a crowd of people that were standing against the hate: NOT OKAY. The fact that black officers had to stand and protect the people that were so disgustingly slinging insults at people of color: NOT OKAY.

I know we can do better. We have to do better. God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us even when we act like this toward one another. All He asks in return for the great sacrifice He made is that we love another as much as He loved us. It’s the least we can do especially if we call ourselves Christians and followers of God. 

Maybe I am off base here and out of line, and I really, really hope that I am not being ignorant of the struggles people of color face in our country today. But I can’t be silent. I don’t understand where this hate comes from, but it is not okay.

In a week and a half, school starts. My classroom will be filled with a diverse group of students, most of which will not look like me. And I will teach and love them just the same. Because anything else just wouldn’t make sense to me. Ever. But it breaks my heart that they are going to face people in their lifetime that will treat them differently and as less than just because of the way they look. They deserve better and so do all people of color in our country.

So don’t be silent. Speak up because to ignore it does nothing to change it. 

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Called to Something Greater

As I sit down to try to write a new post, my mind is filled with clutter and all sorts of things I have to do and think about before the start of this new school year. My first year as a classroom teacher. Which is both terrifying and exciting.

People keep asking me if I’m ready and the answer is I honestly don’t know if I ever will be. The daily pressure of making sure kids that might have unimaginable lives at home feel that my classroom is a safe space. Making sure these students that have never been in the social setting that school provides learn how to interact with others. Making sure these kiddos that have never had to sit still for more than a minute listen and learn. My job depends on all of it. But, more than that, my heart and soul depend on it. Because this is what I was made for.

From the day I started Kindergarten 18 years ago, I wanted to be a teacher. My favorite part of school wasn’t recess. It wasn’t PE or Music. Not even lunchtime. Nope, it was the teachers. That’s all I really remember from school – how much I looked up to and admired every teacher I ever had.

Somewhere along the way, I lost that vision. Sure, being a teacher would’ve been cool, but look at the state of education in our society. Look at how little teachers get paid for the incredible work they do. Why would anyone subject themselves to that, even if they love kids and are passionate about teaching?

Of course that logic seems silly now, but as a young teenager in high school, it wasn’t. I convinced myself that teaching was not the profession for me. Instead, I loved to work with numbers so I would be an accountant. Surely that would be a better choice for me. The pay was good, I liked the work, I could do this.

…until I attended events within the business school in college. Sure, I could do the work just fine and I even still liked it. But I just didn’t fit into the business world. Dressing business casual all the time and doing that type of work left me unfulfilled. So I decided to make a change.

Throughout my years in high school, I was a manager for the boys tennis team. I helped run tournaments and I. Loved. It. It made me so happy and I absolutely loved the critical thinking and problem solving it took to make the events run smoothly. It was my thing and I was good at it. So naturally when I found out I could make running sporting events my career, I jumped on the opportunity and switched my major to Sports Management. I thought it was the perfect fit for me and something I would be really happy doing, especially after taking some of my college classes.

…until I met with different people in that line of work and learned about the lack of job security, the countless overtime hours, the holidays spent away from family, the competitive nature of the field especially for women, the low pay. All of these things added up to show me that maybe this wasn’t the perfect fit I thought it was.

So back to the drawing board I went. I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, but I knew Accounting and Sports Management were not the answers. Around this time, I remembered always wanting to be a teacher and in a conversation with my mom about what to do, she remembered the same thing.

So I went for it. I applied as soon as I could. Started taking the gen ed courses I needed and hoped for the best. And here I am four years later getting ready to start a new school year as the teacher instead of the student.

I had so many great ideas and plans for my life. Ones that I thought would make me feel happy and fulfilled. But none of them worked out. Why? Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” I wasn’t meant to do those things. They weren’t God’s purpose for me. Teaching was. Teaching is.

So no, I might never be fully ready to start this new journey, but I know that no matter how hard it gets, how tired I feel, how much pressure I have, that I will never have to do it on my own. This is God’s purpose for me and I will “be strong and courageous…for the Lord my God goes with me; He will never leave me nor forsake me” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Maybe you haven’t discovered your purpose yet. Maybe your purpose isn’t your career. Maybe your purpose is the way you serve in the community. Maybe your purpose is always being that shoulder to lean on for another. Whatever it is, know that even when it gets tough, God has promised to never leave you and to never make you do it alone. So don’t be afraid to pursue that passion or take that leap of faith because God will always see you through.

Why Bilingual?

I’ve been spending the last week getting my new classroom ready for the upcoming school year. Organizing. Cleaning. Hanging things on the walls. All in an effort to give my students a place where they feel safe and comfortable so they can learn and grow alongside me.

But my students won’t be in a traditional pre-k classroom. I won’t teach them science or social studies. Why? Because they get to go next door and get taught those things in Spanish. These young kiddos have the privilege of getting to learn two languages starting at such a young age. This is huge, especially in today’s society.

But why do I even care? Why is this important to me?

In eighth grade, I started taking Spanish courses. I’m sure many people did the same as it is typically a requirement now. I took classes all the way through my sophomore year in college. I had different teachers that had different ways of teaching over those seven years, but one thing was always constant. I wasn’t just learning the language, I was learning about the people who speak the language, their cultures, their ways of life, what makes them who they are.

Sure, my teachers could have just taught me the language, but what is the point of speaking the language if you don’t know anything about it, where it comes from, or the people who speak it?

Fast forward to the summer of 2015. I went on a short study abroad trip to Costa Rica. It was only 11 days, but it was long enough to notice a common thread among the Ticos. Every single person we encountered was incredibly friendly toward us. I never felt judged. I felt welcomed. They wanted to show us what their country was about and were so happy we were there. Interestingly enough, almost everyone we encountered also spoke English (sans the taxi drivers and older generations).

Some may say this is a coincidence. Some may say that their leading industry is tourism so of course they are friendly to tourists. But I choose to believe otherwise.

I believe that when you learn another language and, in turn, more about the culture and the people that speak it, you become more accepting and welcoming of the people from that culture. You don’t feel the need to bash on their culture or where they come from, but instead you celebrate it and treat those people with kindness.

Why do I believe this? Because I’ve experienced it. The more I learned about the Spanish language and the places it is spoken and the various cultures and people associated with it, I developed an immense appreciation for them. It’s that simple.

My experiences, both with learning Spanish and the way I was treated abroad, are the epitome of why I am so incredibly passionate about children learning another language. Of course there are countless other reasons, but those are for another time. Yes, there are other ways to teach children about other cultures, people, and ways of life, but, in my experience, none of those have been as meaningful or impactful as the times I did so while also studying and learning the language.

I think about how so many Americans treat outsiders today and the lack of emphasis we put on bilingualism. Then I think about how welcome I felt in Costa Rica and the extreme emphasis they put on creating bilingual kids. We visited several schools during our time there, and each school, starting with preschool age kids, taught at least a little bit of English during their day.

It is important to them for their children to know another language and it should be just as important to us to create more opportunities for young children to become bilingual.

Just think about how our country could change if we really believed in educating our kids on other cultures, ways of life, and people. What better way to do that than teaching them another language?