Friday, June 27, 2008

The teacher becomes the student...

One of the things I love most about my job is learning that I have so much to learn. Often, I sit at the feet of those much younger than me for my lessons.

This morning I got the chance to speak to a couple of the students who led a trip to Africa that I was involved in sending. The team just landed at JFK this morning for a well-deserved day in the big city after spending the last month in not-so-big Malawi. They all loved their trip, even Emily.

Nobody would fault Emily, of course, if she didn’t exactly adore the experience. After all, a trip to the African ER because malaria chose to take up residence in your bloodstream isn’t most people’s idea of a good time. Add in South African Airlines’ conspicuous lack of knowledge as to the whereabouts of Emily’s luggage when they reached the country a month ago, and it seemed like Emily unknowingly signed up for the lead role in "National Lampoon’s African Safari."

Then, a couple of days ago, I found out that not only did South African Airlines not know where Emily’s baggage was in May, they weren’t any more knowledgeable about it at the end of June. Yup, homegirl lived in Malawi for a month without any of her luggage. Just the clothes she had on when she boarded the plane on May 27 and whatever stuff she had shoved in her backpack (much of which was emergency contact info and the team leader packet I foisted upon her). Most everything else she had to borrow. For a month. Recipe for disgrunt, I say. But, Emily seemed to be baking from a different cookbook than mine.

Emily: “Benji!”
Me: “Emily! It’s so good to hear your voice! Welcome home. I’m so sorry to hear about your luggage. That’s awful.”
Emily: “You know what? It’s not that big of a deal. I’m over it. I think God really used it to teach me. I needed to go through that.”

Emily was already on my short-list for “Least Materialistic College Student,” but now I was really impressed. She told me that it had been hard for her at first, but that she was fine now. She also said that if she never saw her bag again, not such a big deal. If ever someone deserved a New York City shopping spree as a reward for fortitude, it’s her. If ever there was someone completely unlikely to take one, her again.

I have much to learn from my students. I just hope I keep taking notes.

Do not worry about what you will wear…


Ben Warren said...

Keep blogging man. I like your stories.

San said...

Me, too. I reread this one this morning and thought, "Benji should be a writer."