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A Whole New Aura This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     I turn the corner, and suddenly I’m in a different world. Color and beautiful pandemonium hug the walls of the long hallway. I take a moment at the entrance to ready myself. I breathe in the excitement, the delight, the relieving innocence. I have entered the elementary school.

I turn my head to the left and see a nurse’s office. At the right sits a fifth-grade classroom. A bulletin board beside it features small snapshots of each student and tiny cutouts of bees. A sign in large block letters reads: “Be as Good as you can Bee!”

I walk a little farther and see a bathroom with no door. Five black and white stalls with no profanity, no gossip, no evil. Across sits a fourth-grade classroom, its bulletin board featuring recent student art projects.

By now I am tingling in anticipation. I have figured out the pattern: the classrooms progress by year. While I want to savor the magic of the atmosphere, I can’t wait much longer. I quickly glance at the third-grade classroom to the left and I walk a bit farther.

Suddenly, I’m home. I open the door quietly and set down my backpack and jacket in a corner. Almost immediately I hear shrieks, a racket, an uproar. One of the shorter children has wrapped her pudgy arms around my waist. One of the taller ones has covered my eyes and nose with his surprisingly large hands that are sticky and smell like glue. I let myself enjoy this moment before I ask everyone to settle down. They quickly do, and get back to work.

I take my usual spot at a table near the front of the classroom. Each day the children complete different dinosaur worksheets that fill their brains with delicious facts about species long gone. By now, they each have a favorite type and know more about them than I do. Each day they teach me more than I can ever teach them.

Although I know little more about dinosaurs since beginning this experience, I know much more about an incredible group of second-graders. Most of these children spend their entire lives traveling. They are now attending the Uruguayan American School, but most have attended another faraway elementary school before and will be attending a different one soon due to their parents’ jobs. Every day each of these seven-year-olds tells me a new fact about a place they have lived, be it another country in South or North America, or places in other continents that I have only seen in movies.

I moved to Uruguay this year from the only home I had ever known. Facing the changes and adapting to a new life was something I couldn’t fathom doing, but most of the children in this school do it their entire lives. When I ask them about their many homes, they approach the subject with appalling honesty. They admit that moving is difficult. They miss the places they have left, and they are excited to see new ones and meet new people. Getting to know each of these creative, intelligent, and upbeat children is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. They offer the perspective that one loses in the stressful and pressure-filled halls of high school.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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MountainGirl said...
Mar. 5, 2010 at 1:46 pm:
Thanks for sharing- you do a great job of expressing the feeling of your experience
 
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