One of the things I love most about my job is the almost daily sense of perspective it gives me. Listening to stories from students or seeing how quickly something can turn around. Let me give you three quick examples that illustrate:
* a student had a lot of revising work to do during the Thanksgiving break. She was a good student but had a lot of obligations and wasn't well prepared for the class. She broke down in tears because she couldn't figure out how to get to a computer. Of course, there was the bus, but she lived next to the library - however, she couldn't use their computers because she had a fine. This girl was literally losing it. It was a $6 fine, and I gave her the money. Now, I don't know for sure that she used it to pay a fine, but her face immediately lit up and it was like a total weight had gone from her body. To me it was $6, but to her it was a crisis.
* we were reading a story in our textbook about a soldier fighting in Fallujah. One of the students starts relating the story of how she was on the front lines as a civilian in Sierra Leone and told us about her experiences and escape.
* a student sat in my classroom today just sobbing because his ex-girlfriend wouldn't let him be an emotionally involved father. She wanted money and babysitting, but wouldn't let him do anything else. Just being able to listen to him, I think, helped us both. He asked if I pray, and I said I do, and he lit up and asked me to think about him. I do hope things work out for him.
It never ceases to amaze me how many people go through such amazing experiences and yet keep on going. It's a wonderful lesson that I need to remember more often.