Sunday, January 11, 2015

Lessons Learned!

How can a kid change and teach you a few life lessons?

Let me introduce you to Saul, 7. Saul is a regular at the after school tutoring program here in Alamosa. He has been around the after school and summer programs since he was 4. Besides being one of our ITA participants he was already my neighbor.

When Saul was 3 he would come over to my apartment and chat with me and my sister Alicia. We loved his accent.

Then, all of the sudden something happen, something we still do not know the how and why.. Saul decided to stop talking, speaking outside his house. For the past 3 years he refused to speak to anyone outside home, even with his teachers and classmates at school.

During this time we learned to respect him and work with him. This past summer while L.L Bean came to do a video on our program I recalled challenging, Kayla, L.L. Bean representative to have Saul speak to her, to my surprise she told me that Saul indeed spoke to her during the walk. I was really happy to know Saul dared to talk to someone he just met and only wished Kayla lived closer.

Well, the story of 2014 goes to Saul when  5 weeks ago on Wednesday December 4th, he gave us the best gift a mentor, friend, teacher could ask for. Saul made the decision to start speaking again.

It was a regular afternoon and as I was walking towards the office, I see Saul sprinting to the front door. I get this good feeling, seeing him so eager to get his homework done makes me smile. I get there after him and he reaches out to grab the door key. I asked: "Do you want to open the office today?" As usual Saul "Noded Yes" Once inside the office, Saul gives me a sheet of paper with instructions to do his homework. It's a poem and Saul has to read it out loud to me.  Then, once we take a sit, I look at him in the eye and very sadly, but firmly I tell him:

"Saul,  I am really sorry, I do not think I can help you with your homework today. It requires for you to speak. I am afraid you have to ask your brothers to help you" Saul looked down and draw a sad face in a sheet of paper.. Then, an idea occurred.. " Saul, I have an idea, what about I cover my face with that sheet of paper and we pretend I am not here"

With a smile, he nodded yes.

"I have a special request, can you make that face a happy one"

He did and then after I cover my face with the happy mask (white sheet of paper),  I heard Saul's voice for the first time in 3 years. I wanted to cry, to jump, to hug him, etc. But, I did not want to spoiled the moment. Im glad I did not,because after 10 minutes or so with a kind and confidence voice Saul said " You can remove the mask, I will speak to you"

Since that day, Saul went on to speak to all the kids in the program,  his teacher, his classmates..

Days later he asked: "Does it make you happy that I speak now?" It was then that I shared a few tears, jumped and hugged him. I told him I missed his voice very much and that I was the happiest mentor, friend in the whole world. 

Three years had to go by, to realize that with respect, patience, trust and understanding great things can happen. Thank You, Saul for the great lessons!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Zoila,

Congratulations on winning the Phoenix marathon! My niece finished fifth. My friend has a house in Cretonne, so I've been to Alamosa before and noticed it as your home. Best of luck in future races. Ron DiMichele, Newark, CA