I love seeing a child sprawled out on the floor coloring on newsprint. It might seem small, but when the child struggles with autism, pushed through her anxiety to lay on the floor to be traced, and then stayed on task to color — It is miraculous.
I love hearing the responses of my students when I pull something unexpected out of “the big art bag.” I carry all of my supplies back and forth from our apartment to the orphanage. I must admit, the anticipation of seeing what will come out of the bag can cause some of my dear friends to come unglued! This week, when I pulled out modeling foam, several children gasped out loud. Pure joy. I want to be more like my students.
I love seeing that children in the orphanage are normal kiddos. We used a spray bottle to blend washable markers on a coffee filter. Sounds random, but actually the process is simple for everyone and the results are amazing. One of the kids turned that spray bottle on me and gave it a big squirt. At my surprise the whole class roared in laughter. Yes, a little water fight broke out. We were damp by the end but feeling good after some belly laughs. All kids are tempted by water mischief.
Many moments are filled with laughter, joy and victory, but there are moments of tears and deep grief as well.
I love talking with my students. One class found out that a 13 year old boy has been chosen for adoption by an expat family who lives in our city. They were full of questions for me about this whole adoption thing. “Teacher, will he go to America?” “Does the family speak Chinese?” “Do you know them? Are they your friends? Do you have more friends who might adopt us?” The conversation kept getting harder and harder. Just when I thought my heart might break the conversation turned and they almost forgot about me. “Why do you think they chose him?” One teen asked another. “Oh, he is smart, short and can run fast. That must be why.” Tears came to my eyes as I saw the wheels turning in their minds. They didn’t say the words but the silence in the air was thick. They all wished they were smart and could run fast.
My students….they are normal kids who love to color while laying on the floor, enjoy a good water fight and get excited by something new to play with. The difference between them and most children – People don’t see them. So they are left to ask questions like….why do I get left behind. Why doesn’t anyone choose me? What is wrong with me?
Yup, I know this has gone from a sweet blog post to a downer. Welcome to my life – joy and sorrow mingle in my heart as I look into the faces of each of these children. Thousands of Chinese children are waiting, hoping and wishing for a family of their own. They are not a statistic. They are not faceless. They are my students. Let’s make sure they are not voiceless.