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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Silent No More

Often times I open my office door as I sit at my desk and grade papers or work on the computer. Every now and then a former student comes by and pokes his or her head in and says hello. I usually do not remember the student's name, but no matter how many years have gone by, I usually remember the face. To my surprise, there is one student who drops by every couple of years. The first time he came by to see me I was surprised, very surprised, for he and I had not really bonded during the semester, at least I thought we had not.

He was a very quiet young man, kept to himself and never spoke in class, raised his hand or asked a question. I must admit I misjudged him for weeks as he sat in my class. He looked angry because he never smiled or even grinned at my jokes. Even though some of my jokes were funny and the other students laughed, he remained serious, really serious. I often wondered if he wanted to be there or if he was even listening to me. At the end of the term, he passed my course and went on to the next level. After a couple of semesters went by, he showed up one day at my office. He walked in and without saying hello, began to ask me if I could provide him with a letter of recommendation and I was glad to help of course. He had not changed much; he was still "mean" "angry" looking, quiet and not very friendly. I prepared the letter, gave it to him and he was off. If my memory serves me well I don't think he even said thank you.

About a year later, he once again stopped by to let me know he would be graduating soon from the college. I felt tremendous joy, for he was one of the lucky ones who did not give up. There was no sparkle in his eye, no pride and no exuberant joy overflowing from any part of his body that gave me any sign of life. This would not be his final visit. Every now and then , he would visit my office, same room, same face and same quiet and unfriendly young man. Unlike before when he would walk in and catch me off guard with his cold demeanor, I quickly became accustomed to his ways. Where once I may have felt fear of this unknown strange and aloof individual, I began to see someone else emerging.

During one of those strange visits when he stood over my desk refusing to take a seat, he exclaimed, "Everything you said was true." With some confusion, I asked what he was referring to, and he said again, "Everything you warned us about." He then went on to tell me about his many struggles while he was in his third and fourth year of college, how his parents had worked so hard to help him succeed and how many sacrifices they had made. Quitting for him, no matter how hard life got, was simply not an option. He told me that he had learned to raise his hand, talk to his classmates and that he had found the courage to walk up to his teachers and ask a question. Sometimes he was well received by others, and other times he was rejected and ignored. However, he chose never to back down or give in to any of his failures. I am not sure, but I think he stood there for an hour or two maybe and just listed everything on his mind, everything that he perhaps had kept bottled up for years. All these thoughts poured out of his mouth, one right after the other as I sat motionless and speechless watching this young man transform before my eyes. I thought to myself, "When did this happen? How did it happen? Thank God it happened. "

The man standing before me on that day was not the young man that had visited my office many times before. This young man had found his voice. I sat in awe, watching him, smiling and inside my heart beat quickly. He needed to tell me where he came from, where he had been and where he planned to go. He needed me to hear it because he knew that I would understand.

This young man who stood before me now had courage and strength, an education and a law degree. In his eyes I saw the sparkle I had searched for and never found. And there behind the twinkle, not too hidden, I saw the joy. He was graduating, and he was proud.

DP is due for a visit any time now. I hope to hear from him soon!


  1. This story is radically different from mine in detail but resonates so clearly and deeply for me.

    I chose a path non-mainstream, I've not had much social-patterning to follow, and I've been singularly alone on my journey.

    Still, for my own reasons, for what I owe God for giving me life, I've never given up.

    Your post confirmed my goal and lightened my struggle.

    Thank you !!!

    ~ Alex

  2. What a story, what a story. Sometimes I believe that teachers or instructors as they call them do not understand in what way that impact their students. It can be the smallest detail or last impressions, but we all know that we are in college for a reason. I find this story to be very inspirational. This was a good read for today.

  3. A heart warming must be so very proud to have contributed to this person life!


  4. I'm so happy for him that you were there for him. You must have been the one safe, soft spot in the world.

  5. @Alex I am happy to learn that this post in some small way "lightened your struggle." I started this blog with the intention of sharing my experiences and offering the readers a glimpse into my world and college life as I see it; however, it has transformed into so much more. Without doubt, I am learning a great deal more from the readers than I ever expected.

    Oh, yes I am very proud, but I also feel so honored to have known this student and to have seen him blossom the way he did. I witnessed an incredible event that served to remind me once again that the human spirit holds incredible possibilities.

    @Kelvin, your feedback means a great deal to me and I am happy that you found this story inspirational. It is more than a story though; it is someone's life, a transformed life. There is still so much more tell about this young man, but I would have gone on forever. DP's story is not unusual, for there are so many more like him out there who struggle and overcome great obstacles. Unfortunately, we just don't hear or read about it. Perhaps you too have your own story to tell...

  6. @Carla

    Are we not all soft,safe spots for someone? And yes, I guess I never thought that maybe he did feel safe around me. Maybe I listened and maybe he saw that my encouraging but yet truthful words came from my heart and that he, just like all the other students, mattered to me. I believe that in the end who we really are shows clearly and anyone paying attention (even if you think he is not) can easily figure us out. I must admit I prefer transparency to obscurity any day. Thanks so much for your visit.

  7. It's one thing to be able to pass on academic knowledge to students, it's another to be able to have a positive influences in a student's life. You must have enjoyed great satisfaction from your career.

  8. This is wonderful! It reminds me of the fact that sometimes we do not know the power, as well as the effect we can have on people (especially our younger ones). Mme. Fearless, this brought tears to my eyes and has inspired me to do whatever I can to make a difference...especially to a child. One never knows...


  9. I stopped teaching in 2004, and this post brought tears to my eyes. It's too easy to forget the good side of things when the negatives were what cut the ties. I miss my students!

  10. WOW!!!!!! , I am speechless,and for some odd reason, i found this story the "silent no more" to be inspirational,i'm aware that not everyone goes around with a smile on their face,but i had to learn the hard-way of how to react to those individuals by trying to understand why? Is it because they are unhappy with themselves,or what?... I guess some people are like that! Great story mrs.cueto!

  11. Hi Buzzing J

    Yes I love my work, for it is not work...well most of the time. I am so blessed.

    Nards my friend...the power we humans have is immense! I see it around me everyday. Miracles happen everyday, everywhere and to everyone. Some just do not realize it. Yet, for those aware of the "magic," life is grand...very grand!

    Hi Theresa glad you visited.
    I am sure as a former teacher, you too must have a few amazing stories. I do not want to ever forget the reason I became a teacher,and through the writing of these inspirational stories I reinforce my own beliefs and remind myself that no matter how difficult the journey, it is always a path worth taking.

  12. Hello, this is a story of change. A story of success and a story of growing understanding. I like the story. Thank you

  13. I love this story, TFB.

    I think a lot of people discount those who are quiet or brusque. You were accepting and open and that had a huge effect.

    No wonder you love your job -- and your students love you!

  14. Hi there!

    That post was wonderful! I watch the teachers through the years that have been in my children's lives and the ones that still are. I know it must be a struggle to do what they/you do. I love how you can get a student like this to come to you and show you that you've made an impact. Teachers deserve to hear what they have contributed.



  15. Ray, Jennifer and Monica

    So glad you all enjoyed the story. So much of what teachers do every day just goes unnoticed. We do not need a constant pat on the back. It's our job. However, when someone's life transforms in such a drastic manner, I can't help but feel immense satisfaction, not because I feel I had anything to do with it, but because I witnessed it myself. :)

  16. very nice to hear a success story in this crazy world. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Every body needs someone in his or her life.
    Silent no more makes me think the reason why The Lord God said;it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

    Evodie Pierre

  18. He reminds me of myself! Good Job! enc 1101 north summer A Brandi J

  19. It seems you enjoyed reading this story, and I am glad to hear you see yourself in him. Thank you for commenting Brandi and I hope you will return.

  20. Just beautiful. I live for inspirational stories like these. They are much more powerful than anything Hollywood could make up. Thank you.


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