The Power of Story Proven Once More

A colleague with documentary filmmaking experience has joined our group (that is going to Peru in January), so we are filming some pre-trip interviews and footage. Amazing! These students are incredibly inspiring in their dedication to service. Anyone who thinks that young people these days are selfish and materialistic should meet this crew!

While they come from different places (a poor Peruvian neighborhood in Lima, an upper-middle-class neighborhood in Lima, cute suburban towns outside Boston, etc.) and they are headed on different paths (back to Peru, into a convent, on to grad school, etc.), there is one clear message that comes through in each interview:

We must all strive to help others, and the best way to do so is to learn as much as possible so that we can be of the best use possible to those in need.

A teacher’s dream, these students! To be motivated to learn not because of grades but because they know they need to improve their skills if they are truly to be of use…? Yes, that’s the kind of student that makes teaching more than just a job.

Are they the exception, you ask? Maybe. But in our group, they are the rule. And honestly, these students are enough for me right now. They have restored my zeal for teaching. They have encouraged me to dare to hope that all is not lost in our collective future. They have inspired me with their personal stories, their aspirations, their committment, their humility, their energy their love for others, and their positive outlook.

And interviewing them has changed me. While I’d be lying if I said I felt no fear about this trip, clearly, I’ve experienced some sort of sea change in my attitude. I suppose it is the power of story. What I mean is that when we listen to each other’s stories, we move outside ourselves and our petty and selfish concerns, and we learn to see the world through another’s eyes. Looking at the trip through the eyes of these students, I feel excited, actually giddy at times, thinking of all the promise the trip holds. And I feel privileged to be a part of it. Really, it sounds so cliché, but I feel incredibly honored. I mean, who in their lifetime gets such an opportunity to do something this wonderful?

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