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Going Home (standard:other, 6150 words)
Author: Alan WilloughbyAdded: Oct 13 2015Views/Reads: 696/456Story 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 


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