Thursday, February 14, 2013

Expecting the Expected

Gabby Smith
Potiki- Homelands analysis

                In chapter 21, Toko describes how he really listened and understood Granny’s stories much more after many people lost homes and possessions in the fire.  He says how she always told her stories “with a kind of joyfulness” but really “loss and grief were ordinary and expected” (140 Grace).  Today I went to Acts 4 Youth for the second time.  I was working with two 7th grade boys on studying science and writing a book report.  At one point, I was quizzing M on parts of a nerve cell and he got frustrated.  “Forget it!  If I don’t get this one right I’m not getting into to no high school,” he told me.  Of course, he got it wrong and he continued to express more frustration saying that he could never get into any of those “good high schools.”  A few minutes later, the other boy, A, mentioned Loyola Blakefield that was on a piece of paper.  He said to M how they could never get into Loyola Blakefield, a prestigious high school in Baltimore.  I immediately said, “of course you can go!” because I was always brought up being told that I could go anywhere and do anything I wanted to.  M looked at me and laughed at first, but when I said it again seriously he looked at me almost like I was just being rude.  It was as if everyone knew that going to Loyola was impossible and now I was just being cruel by making them think they actually could go there. 
            I do not know much about their home lives just yet, as it is only the second week, but I do know that most of them are not too well off financially.  When reading this chapter, Granny’s demeanor and stories really reminded me of M today.  These boys have so much energy and are so fun to be around, just as Granny tells her stories always so joyfully.  In this way, I see the contrast between the storytellers, Granny and the boys at Acts 4 Youth both of who are almost always laughing, and the truth in their stories, that they have seen and had to accept difficult circumstances.  Despite such negativity in their lives, both Granny and the kids tell stories with such enthusiasm that one could assume nothing is wrong.  Grace writes how Toko “really understood for the first time that to Granny, loss and grief were ordinary and expected” (140 Grace).  Just as Granny came to expect loss, M and A have accepted their future as going to a mediocre high school and maybe getting into college if they’re lucky.  In the York Road area where many of the students live, violence and death is surprising, but not uncommon.  As for their futures, there is not much dreaming.  We toured a business last week to show them some of the business world and what it takes to be a businessman, but when I asked who was interested in owning their own business, only two of them said, “yeah, maybe.”  This could be because their careers are in the very distant future, but when M laughed and got almost offended when I tried to be hopeful for him, it demonstrated the limits of his world.  The idea of “dreaming big” and “making yourself” as Hoani says in this chapter, is not there.  Hoani says “it’s myself, to give…and your big fish, it’s yourself, to give” (144 Grace).  I feel this idea of investing in people so they can give the best of themselves to other people is not in the mindset of Americans in general.  Perhaps I am being too idealistic.  The reality is that M and A will probably stay in Baltimore for the rest of their lives and be fine without going to a great high school or college.  Most of them are very average students with a little too much energy, so some of the tougher high schools will probably not want to take them.  However, not even having that possibility in mind, not having anything to strive for because M assumes he will never get in, really bothers me.  I want him to be able to dream and give the most of himself to the world; without goals or possibilities for his future, I worry about him accepting mediocrity, settling to be a small fish without striving to be bigger.   

**M and A refer to the boys’ names which I decided to leave out for any security reasons**

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