Friday, March 11, 2011


I'm thinking today about the future.

It's graduation day. I hate them. I forgot that I hate them. They're never quite what I want them to be. I mean, I went, and we sang, and I cried, and it was poignant. But it was also like stay-awake-challenge 2011, and not only for me, when the speakers got up to say their pieces. Maybe it's because their speeches are all in some level of Japanese I don't really understand. But they were the ones who looked bored when the kids started singing badly, and when the class VP started to give an account of their memories, her voice broken by little sobs.

I had come to terms with the idea that it's not really for the graduates that we put them through all this crap. It's for us, the teachers and parents. It's so we can wallow in the weird feeling of imagining them taking flight, of how happy we are and how sad, that we maybe taught them something, that they needed us, that they don't anymore.

But for me, I love their faces as they march out into the swirling snow (yeah, snow) through the back doors of the gym. Tearstained and squared jaw, they go forward; they have no other choice. The future is there, and they'll go into it. They couldn't stay behind if they wanted to. Not that they want to.. some are glad to get out, and some are glad to go wherever they are going. Some are sad to be leaving, some are scared of where they're headed, or of not knowing where they're headed. And some are all of the above.

But scared or sad or happy or excited, we go, because for all the points of the compass, there's only one direction, and time is its only measure (that isTom Stoppard).

But something else. Before the graduates came into the gym, while I was wandering around trying to keep warm, I stopped and smiled and chatted and joked with the younger students. The first-years squabbled over who was number one, two, or three coolest. The second-years called me beautiful. Then during the ceremony, next year's student body president started crying during his speech, and continued to cry through the rest of the ceremony (I didn't know this til I saw him, red-eyed, at the end).

I remembered the phrase just a judo kid, and choked on it watching the irrepressible Minato deliver his ceremonial paper to the stage. He was never just anything. Now our new class president is just a table-tennis kid, but he has a good heart, and he's sharp, and he has a steady voice. And he cried through the whole ceremony!

At the risk of sounding like a horrible person, I like working with kids whom I've seen cry. I actually have more respect for the kids I've seen moved that much, because it means they give a shit. I like kids who give a shit. The future is brighter for them.

I've been thinking lately about the future, about education and how we're all in this together. About how we need kids to give a shit, and to learn about things, even if they don't think they want to, because the future needs better people. I hear about how this country has a growing population and that one has a shrinking one, but I feel like what we need is not more people (oh hey massive population jump in the last several centuries and the fact that our resources and infrastructure may not be able to keep up at that rate), just better ones.

The world needs people who are smart, sure, but more than that, the world needs people who give a shit. The other day, an acquaintance said "Stupid scares me, because I am afraid it's winning." Sometimes it does seem like stupid is winning, but I have hope. And it's kids like next year's class president that give it to me.

And who make losing last year's class president bearable.


  1. EmLem,
    For the majority of the last two years, I've been without Internet. I have an iTouch that I used at work (where Internet is free and readily available), and often when I was closing, I'd use the last couple of hours of my shift when I had little to do to surf around and read your blog. I never commented, but I read every post. It was always so great reading about you and your adventures in Japan, and I was so proud of everything you were doing. I stopped closing, though, which meant no more Internet, and then I stopped reading your blog.

    For over a year I haven't read a single post. I've thought of you and missed you, but it was almost impossible to get online. I was so out of touch. My roommate and I recently (finally) got Internet, but I still didn't read your blog. Then, a few days ago, someone mentioned the Guidestones, and I thought of you. Then I heard about the tsunami and earthquake and thought of you again. I don't believe in coincidence. Allow me to explain.

    I've grown so much in the last two years that I've been out of school. I've become financially independent, I've started to learn who I am and what I really want/want to do in life, and most importantly, I've found true happiness. It's not been an easy journey by any means, but it's changed me for the better. For me, I know what matters now. People matter. My friends and family and my relationships with them matter. Nature and music and good food and love matter. Simply that. I've become a big ball of love, and my life is so amazing. I write all of this so you know where I'm coming from. I believe that it's vitally important to let people know how much they've affected you and how much you love them. And EmLem, I love you.

    GHP was a great experience for me as a student, but I didn't come away with any real friends. As an RA, it was an even better experience, and I left with you as a friend. I'm so sorry that we've fallen out of touch, but from all of this tragedy, I'm so thankful that I've found you again. I'm so thankful that I came to your blog today and read this post.

    You wrote it so beautifully, and I know without a doubt that you're an amazing teacher. I know that because you give a shit (I tried italics on 'you', but my computer science class was a long time ago, so oops! if it didn't work :P ). And you know what? I bet you give those kids hope, too. I bet you give everyone around you hope, because it's teachers like you, people like you, who are making the future better. I believe that. It's why I love so much, why I want people to know how awesome they are, or how much I love them. I believe that my actions, as small and insignificant as they may be, are helping to shape the future.

    So EmLem, I love you, and I miss you. I'm sorry it's been so long, but I want to resurrect our friendship, and I hope you do too. And I'm proud of you. You, EmLem, are awesome.
    Frazier Fraj

  2. Of course I want to get back in touch with you. Thank you for your kind words, Fraj. Love you!