Gratitude – Day 3
She’s only twelve and has seen more hardship than most of us will in our lifetime. She’s traveled from a land far away with hope for a new future in a country where opportunity abounds. With only 11 months under her belt, she’s learned to read and write, add and multiple and all about “snience”. She’s resilient, resistant and witty. I’m so thankful for “H” and the Tuesday nights we get to spend together reading, writing, doing homework and playing games.
“H” (I’m not allowed to state her real name) is a refugee from Somalia. She’s one of six siblings who entered the U.S. in January 2015. She doesn’t talk much about her time in Somalia other than about her father’s love for all the cats in her village, nor does she discuss her journey to America. She does teach me the Somali version of the words I teach her. And it never fails, she always laughs at me when I royally mispronounce the word. She rolls her eyes, and says “Teacher. That’s not right”. Her laugh is brilliant. Her laugh makes my soul happy. I often wonder if that laugh has grown more confident, more innocent as her time in the U.S. has increased.
She’s also incredibly generous. A couple of weeks ago, she brought home an Airhead from school. As we started working on her homework, she tore her candy in half. She offered me the significantly larger piece of that half. I resisted, and so did she. She wouldn’t stop until I had accepted her offer. Then a grin from ear-to-ear resumed. She’s a gem. Her generous heart will take her far. On the other hand, she hates to lose. When I catch her peeking at the cards as she lays them down, preparing a round of Beatrice Potter’s Matching Game, she beams that grin again. This time it’s a little more sheepish; sometimes I let her win, sometimes she outright beats me and sometimes we tie. She’s generally happy whatever the result.
I’m so thankful for “H”. She teaches me to never give up and to try something new. She inspires me to be more generous with my time and resources. Her example instills within me a sense of contentment, humbleness and gratitude. She’s taught me way more than I think I could ever teach her.
When I look into her happy eyes and spend time with her family, I just don’t understand how people can be opposed to helping refugees. We can’t even begin to truly understand the turmoil that is their everyday existence. We can’t fathom their fear. We are a country that finds pride in endless opportunity. We were started by refugees. Historically, our hardest workers, our business owners have been immigrants and refugees. They are the heart-and-soul of this country. I’m proud to live in a country that helps the poor and down-trodden. I’m thankful for the opportunity to do my part, even if that’s just a few hours a month hanging out with the coolest twelve year old I know.