Being frank

on Saturday, 23 January 2010
You'll never know when you will reach out to your students. It could be something you were doing or saying the classroom about the topic you were teaching, or it could just be something you accidentally did. Every one of them has their own individual story. The stories could be your typical teenage-angst filled chapters and it can be possibly moving as well.

I'm not going to talk about the stories cause honestly, I'm not exactly sure what it is as well. I can only make an educated guess about it but that has proven to be wrong on more than 1 account.

I was talking about abuse. About how the power of the abuser grows with each day the victim remains silent. Basically, in the process of trying to get them to be completely honest in their journals, I want them to feel comfortable talking about their most sensitive issues and feel free to write down anything that they feel they want to share with me. Of course, I'm not just encouraging them to tell me about their problems but it isn't really an issue for them to tell me about their happiest moments in life. It is normally the sensitive problems that they ponder about writing it down.

"You must not be scared. The burden of such problems will explode if you let it store within yourself. NO ONE can bear such burden when you're at such a young age," I told my students. "In order to feel free and relaxed when you enter the classroom, you must be in a state where the stress level you have is manageable. In order for that to happen, you must manage it by either doing something distracting, or share it with a person you trust. Do not think for one second that no one cares about your problems. Do not even think for one minute that your friends, family, and your teacher is not concerned about your welfare. Your welfare and your happiness directly affects the people around you."

In that split second, a girl at the back starts crying. She starts sobbing and tearing while I'm telling them to share their stories.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Oh teacher, dia adalah... ada.... erm... nothing la," her friend explained.

Did I say something that made her feel emotional? Did she have something that is cooked up inside her that needs to be let out? Is she really emotional or there's something I said that caused her to suddenly be reminded about something in her life that sounds similar? I couldn't help asking her what was wrong, and typically she just shook her head, teary eyed, trying to convince me that nothing was wrong.

"So class! You see your friend crying and being upset. What should you do? Laugh at her? NO! You hug her with love and care and tell her everything is going to be OK. You give her all the love and 'kasih sayang' that you can give her. Do not pinggirkan (cast aside) these friends when they are feeling sad. You will realise that when the problems are being shared, her burden and yours become lighter. Semua akhirnya become very happy..."

All her friends around her started to hug her with laughter and of course with a jovial manner thanks to me prompting them with the taboo words 'love' and 'kasih sayang' (I know, that IS a taboo in this place). A short smile glimmered across her face. Just for a short while, the red-eyed, watery-nosed girl was laughing and giggling. The whole class gave a big "Awwww...."

Yeah, I mix it a little bit.

Don't tell me that's the only thing you cared to think about when you were reading?

Heartless, you.


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