Thursday, March 19, 2009

Is Anybody Listening?

This video has touched me so much. I see parts of my own childhood in each of these kids. I was their age when our family life truly fell apart. I didn't know if I'd be able to go to college either. But, luckily, through the grace of God and a LOT of financial aid, I did get through college.

I remember what it was like when we had nothing. When things like Christmas presents didn't exist, but for the kindness of strangers. When we lived on food stamps and the generosity of the local food bank. When my babysitting money helped pay the family bills and was the only money to buy me new clothes. When I tried to get a real job the summer after 7th grade because we needed the money. I know what it's like to worry about whether we'd get to stay in our home.

After that, we had enough money for a few years, because my mom was really successful in commercial real estate. But then my mom's boss decided not to pay her according to her contract, I guess because she made too much money and she had to sue him to recover the money. Needless to say, the only people who made out from that were the attorneys.

I think the difficult times when I was a teenager have made me the woman I am today. I am certainly more compassionate and less judgmental because I've been there. I get how quickly it can all disappear, even when you're doing everything right. I try to reach out to those less fortunate and see the person behind the circumstances.

The difference between my life and the life of these kids, I think, is that I didn't tell anyone. I was so ashamed. Heck, I'm still ashamed, which is strange since I'm writing about it here and a lot of people who know me read LMS. I can write about it here, sometimes but not too often and not too indepth, but I won't talk about it. I didn't know who to turn to. I didn't want to turn to my mom - she already had too much on her plate. My dad wasn't around. I was scared to go to my friends because I worried they'd think less of me. I lived in an area where people believed (and still want to believe) poverty didn't exist.

What I love about this video is that the teacher of these kids took an opportunity to give them an outlet and created a safe place for them to express their rawest feelings. And in the process, they were noticed by President Obama. He is listening.

The story of how this video got made is inspirational. I love teachers who think outside the box. Watch and see for yourself and then read the story in the LA Times and on

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