Teacher, "I made it!"
The classroom filled with the old familiar sounds of mingling as students filtered in and were reunited with their “encouragers” (American friends who volunteer in English classes). Friends who hadn’t seen each other over the 2-month summer break were excited to see each other, and I enjoyed watching hugs and the happy chaos of friends catching up. Then everyone settled down to work: computer screens blinked, head-sets were put on, and everyone settled down in pairs with the Rosetta Stone programs to continue adding to their knowledge of the English language.
I resumed my regular job of floating around the room, checking in on students and encouragers and filling in tracker sheets that monitor progress. I paused at one desk and welcomed one friend back to class. She had come in, sat down at her computer, and put a beautifully flowered bag on the back of the desk. She pulled her English notebook out of the bag and got to work. When I complimented the bag, she turned to me with a big smile and said, “Teacher, I made it.”
Suddenly I recognized the pattern: the material was her own, personalized to her choice and style, but the bag pattern was one she had learned last month during the sewing class! I was so impressed that she had taken what she learned in sewing class, purchased her own fabric, and made her own bag! She beamed as I complimented her choice in fabric and examined the seams. It was all beautifully done, and you could tell she took pride in her work.
As I moved on around the room to other students, I was reminded of the value of teaching skills to individuals, whether they are our children, our students, our friends. Whether refugee or American-born, when we learn a skill, we gain a certain sense of accomplishment and pride that is greater than the skill itself. I could see it in my friend: she had not only learned how to sew to make products to sell, but she could now make things for herself and her family as well. She plans to return to sewing class at the end of this month, in the advanced class this time, and I look forward to seeing what she creates next!