What a class tonight, yet again. I always leave class feeling impressed, awed, and honored, and this week was no different. The [project name redacted] presentations by this week’s three presenters were brilliant, a fantastic follow-up to last week, and all of seemed to celebrate the beautiful and different ways we sang our own songs — some quite literally! — along to the music of a community we chose to explore. Thank you for this, and to all of you for your wonderful work that I look forward to seeing.I also want to comment briefly on the too-short conversation we had at the end of class about how we as teachers could include undocumented/unprotected students in class, in school, in the community. The question is such an important one, and I sat on the train struggling with this on my way home.
I think the answer starts with a pause, a moment of reflection. Because the question is asking two things, “How do I support someone who is different than me?” and “How do I support someone who is in pain, who has been in pain for a long time, and who will likely still be in pain after s/he leaves my classroom?”
I have never — to my knowledge — worked with people who are undocumented/unprotected, but I have worked with people who are homeless, who are poor, who are survivors of domestic abuse. I’m not equating being undocumented with these other issues except to say that each confers a set of life experiences that are difficult to understand unless you’ve gone through them. No one can tell a woman who has survived marital abuse how she feels, how she has felt perhaps for months or even years, just as no one can tell another person what it is like to live with a constant and awful secret, something no one can ever, ever know about you just as [name redacted] told us, something which isolates and causes emotional, psychological, and even spiritual pain.
As in so many things, we must ask questions, and keep wondering. You all are amazing questioners and this conversation is certainly far from over. I want to thank you for knowing that as we learn, we learn what we haven’t learned yet. And we are learning in a trusting and powerful community, a rare space to be grateful for. It’s a place of healing just as much as anything else.
We must keep reflecting, and keep listening to each other, to ourselves, and to the silences and uncertainties of human existence. I am honored to be here along with all of you as we move, together.