|Going Home (standard:other, 6150 words)|
|Author: Alan Willoughby||Added: Oct 13 2015||Views/Reads: 583/387||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Lana tells her story of how she came to New York.|
Going Home © Alan Willoughby 2015 Lana greeted her soon-to-be ex-students formally at the door as they entered. Without exception they were dressed impeccably in clean, freshly-pressed clothing. She compared them with the mental images she still had of their first day at the academy, when they were bedraggled, unkempt, without pride or hope. She looked into each of their eyes, saw the hope, determination and love burning deeply inside and almost wept for the changes they had made in their lives. She looked also at their support people who accompanied them to this celebration of their achievement. The pride in their eyes was very moving, humbling, as she thought of the journey they too had taken in their lives and in the lives of all they came into contact with. It was hard to stay dry-eyed in the midst of all this emotion. When everyone had settled, the small community hall was packed, with people standing at the back. Never, in all the time she had been in this precinct, had she envisaged that there would be this turnout for the graduands of her first course. She was deeply moved by the show of support from the West Bronx community and especially from the loved ones of those whom she had spent the year teaching, helping, supporting and loving. The Principal of the college, members of the Board of Trustees and Lana took their places on the small stage at one end of the hall. The Principal called the gathering to order and then welcomed everyone to this graduation ceremony for the first intake of students. He spoke briefly of the support the community had offered to the school, the changes that had been seen to take place in the students, his gratitude, and that of the community, for Lana's involvement with the program and as principal tutor of the course and mentor for the students. He congratulated the students on graduating from the course and sincerely thanked all the support people who had accompanied these students through the changes they had made to themselves during the past year. He then called on Lana to give her final address to the students. *** I took the stage, the microphone and a deep breath, fighting back the tears as I looked into the eyes of the beautiful people I had guided during the year and who would soon be free to live their lives to their greatest capacity. I took a deep breath and began: “Today is a day you will remember for the rest of your lives. I know how far you have come during the year, many of you from broken homes, some of which you have helped to mend; many of you given the choice of this course or jail; most of you have given up drugs during the year, a very worthwhile outcome in itself; many of you chose this course instead of life on the streets which would quite possibly have led to your early deaths. I know how far you have come this year because I also have taken your journey. I also came from a broken home, was unwanted, uncared for, unloved. I also risked my life on the streets of this great country, and I also came through with scars and increased wisdom.” I paused to take a sip of water and compose myself as much as possible. “During the year we have concentrated on your stories; showing that these are just stories, they do not bear any relationship to who you really are, what your potential really is or what your capabilities are for the betterment of yourself, the community and humankind in general. So today I would like to finish this course by telling you my story so that you know why this course even exists and how come you have learned the skills, attitudes and wisdom that you will leave with today. “As a young child my parents were always fighting. I never felt safe in my own home. Usually my father was drunk, very often my mother was stoned, we had little or no food to eat and frequently I had to scrounge what I could from other people's rubbish bins. By the age of 11 I was street-wise, I knew how to con money off people who had any, I had been caught shoplifting many times and I had been sexually abused by my father and other men on many occasions. I knew how it felt to be threatened with death, to be hungry, thirsty and to be completely Click here to read the rest of this story (557 more lines)
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