So, I finally figured out how to actually post on the blog!!!! I have really been enjoying reading all of your posts over the last few weeks.
I wanted to share with you my experience of driving one of my students to college last Friday. I had promised Cristina that I would take her up to school back in May. She was going to the University of Rochester, my alma mater, and I planned on driving her up and visiting the family I used to nanny for...kind of an old home week.
Over the course of the summer she was forced to switch to Clarkson University after she missed her Rochester orientation because she couldn't afford the bus ticket to go, she lossed her scholarship and her place in the class. So now she was going to Clarkson...which is in Potsdam, NY...nowhere near anyone I know and about 7 hours from New York City...and she still needed a ride.
I agreed to drive her, but very begrudgingly. I would not get to see the Toscano's or reminice on campus. I no longer was willing to spend the money on a hotel room in Potsdam or a second day of the car rental, which meant that I was going to have to do the round trip in one day.
I woke up at 6AM on Friday really pissed off and bitter that I had gotten myself into this mess. I mean it was still going to cost me money I really don't have and all the benefits were gone. No other teacher at my school went through this.
I picked Cristina up at about 7:45. We packed her stuff into the car and hit the road. We drove through torrential rain, Cristina's car sickness and literally the most desolate parts of New York...and had a blast!!!
We made it to Potsdam at about 4:30 and headed over to the local mall to buy the last minute essentials that Cristina didn't have...like flipflops for the shower and sheets (my recent Smith experience helped considerably with this list).
We got completely lost trying to find where to go on her campus and then made it to the orientation barbeque where all the incoming freshmen were eating with their families. Cristina's family could never have afforded to take her up to school, they can't even afford a phone for their apartment and mom had to work...I can't express how much it meant to me to be able to be there when she was surprised to see all of the parents and families and say to her that I would be her family. She wasn't alone.
We moved all her stuff into her room (having to go through the window once to get the key after I locked her out ;) And then it was time for her first dorm meeting and I left her at about 7:00. I cried my way out of the campus...she isn't even my kid and it was so emotional. I was so proud of her.
I thought that the drive home...7 hours alone in the car at night after waking up at 6 and an exhausting day...would be hell, but it was the opposite. I felt so great!!!! I cried out of happiness for Cristina, but mostly out of happiness for myself. As has happened with most of the good deeds I have begrudgingly done in my life, it ended up being far more rewarding for me than it was for the other person. I pulled the car into the Avis lot at 1:45 AM (definitely drove a bit faster on the way home) just as the last pitch of the Yankee game was thrown.
I realized how fortunate I am to be in a profession where I get to work with and have an influence upon wonderful people like Crisitina. Her success is my success and her ability to leave the South Bronx and continue her education...it is such a success. I love my job and I love my students and now I can't wait to get back and do it all over again.
This summer I got so excited about the craft of teaching, but I wasn't excited about where I was practing my craft. Now I remember why I choose to work in the South Bronx...and I hope that there will always be students who will allow me to drive them to college.
In the words of mastercard..
number of hours speant on the road and in Potsdam: 17
number of miles driven: 941
memories and value of the experience: priceless