Early in the school year I (Raquel) had a classroom full of kids at a new school. Alongside an eager volunteer, I was excited to meet so many new faces and see their enthusiasm for the class. We had a student who I will call “James”, who began acting out both verbally and at times physically with the other kids. His behavior began to push students out of the class.
After a few hard talks with James about his behavior in the class, he removed himself on his own. The door always remained open for his return, but he refused. And while you would think that his absence would have resolved the issues in the class it did not. It was evident that the kids were still having problems with him during the day at school. And soon I began to see each kid act out in their own way during my class.
While I was overcoming their bad behavior, I couldn’t figure out why the kids kept showing up! The entire class is VOLUNTARY and after school! Not a single student is required to come, and yet they kept coming with the worst attitudes ever.
The day I presented the lesson on citizenship, James showed up asking for forgiveness and if he could be in the class. Of course, I welcomed him back. Each boy filed into the classroom sitting down, showing me the most respect that I had seen the entire school year. I was nervous to say the least. Total meltdown seemed imminent.
After experiencing their defiance for the past school year on difficult topics, such as healthy relationships, emotional well-being, and being a good student, I was certain that they would disregard the week on being a good citizen. But the truth is, the weeks that we struggled through were the topics that they themselves were struggling with at the time.
Coming to grips with the truth of the dysfunction in one’s life can be difficult. Having a mentor guiding you to the truth, with just enough wear withal to not give up, is what we all need.
I spoke to the boys about how being a good citizen means giving back in some way. I gave the example of YOU to the boys. I told them how the entire class and the activities that they get to participate were because YOU give the money that funds the class, because you care about boys themselves. In the end they were the stunned. They kept asking why people give? I kept saying it is because people care about you. They agreed that like you they would one day give back.
Thank you for caring and blessing these boys as they struggle through their youth as a refugee in foreign land. You are not only a part of developing them into healthy adults BUT you are also sharing the love in their lives.