Today was Ash Wednesday and there was a school Mass. I was lucky enough to have first period free and get to hang out in the Church while students prepared for Mass and was able to talk teacher free with some of them. Students at Cristo Rey are nothing what I expected. Every student I talked to has a dream plan for college, their goal for “getting out” as one student put it. The students are so amazing and tug at your heart by the simple things they say and do. You realize all that you have taken for granted of in life when talking. School is a privilege, not a right. Not all students want to go there, but they know that they are better there being prepared for college rather than in a public school where their dreams would be almost unreachable. I came on this trip thinking I was meant to have a lasting impact on someone’s life but I never thought that I would be the one who’s world was changed. I never realized how many stereotypes that were in my mind until faced with the reality that they are not true. We’re taught that “Inner-city” kids are so different because they are “less privileged” but they have the same if not more dreams than I ever imagined for myself. These students are more than a stereotype, more than a cliché. They break the barriers set against them on a daily basis. In fact, students at Cristo Rey share responsibility with each other, they stand up for each other, demanding respect of and for all their peers. I haven’t talked to one student that said they aren’t going to go to college. It’s like the word can’t isn’t in their vocabulary and they know that nothing can hold them back unless they allow it to, because they are the holder of their own future. They truly “look forward to the good that is yet to be.” I will never look at people through the same stereotypical eyes again. I am not better than anyone else, no matter what their circumstances and no one is better than me. I leave you with this, a prayer that is prayed in the classroom I’m in daily, “God, help me to open my eyes widely, look about me, and see other peoples not blinded by color, not based on race. Help me to see each man as my brother, each person my equal, each woman my sister. Let me live my life with equality.”
Thank you so much for sharing your post! The prayer at the end is one that I’m going to print out and post in my office. Too often we forget the simple things like treating everyone we encounter with love and respect. Thanks for the reminder!