Education is Empowerment
As a professor at a large New Jersey community college, I teach many students who have come to the United States to be educated and to find a better life. Two years ago I met a young woman from Nepal who had come to New Jersey as a refugee;she had spent most of his life in India at an orphanage and had been educated there. While she spoke english in a halting way and was reticent to engage in class, she came to my office hours with regularity. Each time she entered my office she did so with deference, with a respect that my American students did not give me. She sat across from my desk and asked if she could speak; when I responded with an "of course," she bowed her head and shyly asked me how she could succeed as a student in America. Her work was consistently analytically excellent although her grammar and mechanics needed a great deal of work. I offered to assist her and asked her to come to my office at least twice a week. She came each time ready to learn, willing to work and soon she brought other refugee friends with her. These sessions, where we discussed the readings and discussed the strange elements of the english language became events that I looked forward to. While they came for me to teach them, they actually taught me. They taught me to remember that education can equal empowerment especially for women who come from areas of conflict or change. They taught me that even in times of horror or confusion hope can reign supreme. They taught me that women have the strength of giants, the ability to come together and support one another in love. When the semester ended I cried tears of joy and tears of sadness - my new students and new friends were leaving to move on.