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Why I Serve at Samuel J. Green Charter School

November 14, 2013
Samuel J. Green Charter School  Photo Courtesy of: Firstline Charter Schools

Samuel J. Green Charter School
Photo Courtesy of: Green Charter School

“You are full of rage. Why are you full of rage? Because you are full of grief.”-Anne Carson, Grief Lessons

On August 26th 2005, the most detrimental natural disaster to ever hit the United States blind-sighted the city of New Orleans. Buildings were washed away, thousands were left homeless, and far too many lost their lives. When Hurricane Katrina happened, I was an angst-filled 13 -year- old girl, so far removed living in Northern New Jersey that it was impossible for me to fully comprehend the storms severity. As more and more time went by, it seemed the event had been forgotten in my little corner of the country.

However, living in New Orleans for these short months has given me a completely different understanding. The truth is that although it’s been years, Katrina’s presence is undeniably still very much alive here, looming in a grave silence. This year I am working in a 3rd grade classroom at Samuel J. Green charter school in the uptown section of New Orleans and to my students, post-Katrina New Orleans is all they’ve ever known.

Born the year of the disaster, many of our students were forced to endure the sobering injustices of homelessness, murder, and abuse. Some of their stories are so horrific I literally start tearing up just thinking about them. But despite these extremely difficult circumstances, these kids are some of the most hopeful, thoughtful, and imaginative children I have ever come across. They dream of becoming judges, doctors, and movie stars. When one has something, they always ask if they can share with their classmates, and while it is a struggle for them to grasp the material, my small intervention groups can’t wait to meet everyday because they are truly excited to learn. Here is what you have to know: working as a City Year Corps member is by far one of the most emotionally taxing experiences one can have. That being said, this has been the best thing I could have done.

These children are nothing short of heroes and while academically they may be some of the farthest behind in the country (of no fault of their own) they possess a level of wisdom most and courage most adult’s lack. I am a better person for having them in my life and cannot wait to introduce you to them and the incredible I people I work with via this blog.

Written by: Rebecca Bowe

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