I see. Thanks!
below is my essay..the statement in question is the very last.
Someone once said that children are little, adorable personifications of innocence. Fat little cherubs gilded with gentleness and goodness. Well, whoever said that has clearly never taught fifth-graders.
"Miss Christine? Miss Christine?" a little girl whispered hesitantly, as she tugged at my shirt. It was the middle of the Brooklyn Music Camp's morning rehearsal. Her whisper was nearly drowned out by the singing of forty boys and girls aged 9 to 12. My back was to her - I had been helping a little boy next to me read the song lyrics. I shifted and turned to see her wide-eyed, anxious face.
"Miss Christine, I think Jackie and Kevin are fighting," she said, still in that same hesitant whisper. My eyes widened, and I looked to the middle of the row of children behind me to see two fifth-grade boys swinging and kicking at each other, approximately twenty feet away. Jackie and Kevin were so engrossed in fighting with each other that they had exchanged blows without uttering a single sound from their mouths. I think I might have flown the distance, and I immediately stood between the two as a human barrier. Lord help me, I thought grimly, if this is what the second day of music camp looks like, I sure don't want to see the third.
When I complained loudly to fellow camp counselors that afternoon, they nodded sympathetically. After all, I was the counselor who had "the Three Musketeers" in my group; each was like a migraine. Put any two of them together (like Jackie and Kevin), and you've got the equivalent of a water-boarding experience. Add the third, and you produce a highly unstable hydrogen bomb. They're only simple, raucous boys living in the Asian part of Brooklyn, I grumped.
Until my team leader cleared her throat at the team debrief and began to discuss the five "problem kids" in the camp, three of which were my musketeers. In a quiet voice, she related the miserable family background of each of them. The entire room of counselors fell silent. I would behave a lot worse than my musketeers had if I was traded off annually between inhospitable strangers, or abandoned to live alone in Brooklyn for an entire month. The behavior of my musketeers was nowhere as bad as I would have expected from kids with their backgrounds.
I felt sick inside, aghast as I mentally replayed my condescending behavior towards Jackie, Kevin, and Stephen. Overwhelmed and ashamed, my eyes filled when I failed to recall an instance in which I had treated them with the love they had never received from their families. Their unruly behavior bore no underlying malice or bitterness. In spite of their sobering experiences, they were still uncomplicated children.
I had always prided myself on refusing to let people define or label me, delighting in the liberty I had in creating my own image, free of stereotypes. But here, I had labeled the kids based on a mere two days of limited interaction - who they were, and what their limits were. I had become one of those people I'd previously condemned for stereotyping.
I resolved to start over with an open mind. With new eyes, rid of the cataracts of prejudice, I could clearly see my kids for who they were: precious, feisty, children who deserved credit for rising above broken homes and broken families. When they saw that I was proud of them, they grew to respect and love me. As the days passed, they began to share with me their jokes, their little secrets, and their hugs.
I had come to Brooklyn to teach these kids; instead, I had become their student. They taught me their special version of "chopsticks" (complete with imaginary flamethrowers) and the most powerful Yu-Gi-Oh cards. But the lesson they had unknowingly imparted to me was a humbling reminder about a concept I thought I had already mastered: everyone has a story. Everyone is a story, not simply a "misfit", "migraine", or "musketeer". There are triumphs and difficulties unique to each person, and lessons I can glean from them, regardless of the gilded or worn exteriors of the covers of their narratives. Everywhere we
turn, they are just waiting to be heard.