Fieldnote, 4 Feb. 2013

When I arrived at the library, it seemed to be a slow night. There were a few tutors already working with children, and I had to wait for about ten minutes before the first student I helped arrived. 

I helped Juan, a third grader, with his math homework. As he did so, I prepared the small handouts the library had made. This month, it seems, is college month. The library has made it a point for all tutors to speak to students about college, and to get the children to think about their futures at college. This seems like a great idea to me, and I was glad to participate.

After Juan and I finished with his homework, we filled out the “roadmap” to his future. We determined that by 2024 he would graduate college and begin his career as a vet. We filled out a “promise” note that said he would attend college.

After this I worked with J, one of my favorite bilingual students to work with. He finished his homework with ease–mostly writing sentences for his spelling words. I did the same project with him, and we had a small conversation. He wanted to know about my college experience.

“Why did you go to college?” he asked.

“I guess because I always knew I had to go.”

“But did you know you could do it?”

“Not really, not always. I wanted to drop out a few times, but I didn’t.”

“Why not?”

“Well, because I didn’t want to make my mom and dad sad. But they helped me too.”

“Because they went to college.”

“No,” I said. “They didn’t.–“

“My mom and dad didn’t go to college either.”

“That doesn’t mean they can’t help, though. It just means they help in other ways. Like, my mom and dad, see, they told me I could do it, and they believed in me. And that’s what worked for me.”

He nodded, looked at his homework.

“And your mom and dad believe in you. And so do I.” I gestured behind us at the library. “And so do all of them, a lot of people believe in you.”

“I know, I know.”

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