This I Believe…
While completing my undergraduate studies I realized that my oldest brother shaped, in one way or another, my dedication for learning. In one of my courses, I was asked to create a story about a holiday that was meaningful to me. My first memory was the first doll that I had received on January 6. It was the culminating celebration of the holiday season. “The Three Wise Man” arrived every year to give children what they had requested. Since this was in the Caribbean, there were no chimneys for Santa Claus. Instead, the Camels who carried the kings through their long journey, deserved to have some water and grass to eat before leaving a small token of appreciation under the bed. The day was finally here, but I was too worried about my brother to think about grass and water. I had forgotten to place it under my bed.
My brother had worked long hours for many weeks. Some days, he would not return until dusk. I remember waiting for him by a small crack of my bedroom window. He did not know this because as soon as I saw him coming I would jump into the little corner of a bed that I shared with two of my sisters. I had many childhood memories, but this one had shaped my passion and dedication for learning. I wanted to be like him. Yes, my brother. He was smart. I wanted to learn, be smart, and be someone someday. I was always a dreamer. I would fantasize about working as a flight attendant because I wanted to travel the world. My dreams seemed so distant from reality. The conditions in which we lived, would never allow me to make those dreams a reality. I was confined to a tiny space in “our’ room the only place that I could really concentrate.
My brother had spent his first paycheck on gifts for my sisters and I. I could think of a million things that he could have spent the money on. But he chose to give his little sisters a smile, “A smile that would last a lifetime in my heart”.
During the late 70’s there were limited jobs that allowed low-income families to spend money on necessities, much less, “wants”, but my brother had managed to fit this into his budget.
My brother worked to support our family. A family of eight with a single mother who could barely write due to limited education opportunities, but my brother, he never complained, he always smiled. He was optimistic.
On the scarce days that he made it home before dark, he walked in the door unbuttoning his sweaty shirt after long hours of work, he would ask me “What’s 3 x 3 mi flaquita?” He always found the opportunity to challenge my brain. His perseverance and desire to succeed inspired me everyday. He was my role model, my hero. When he went away to become a police officer I missed him immensely. He was now in the police academy and had a part time job at the grocery store that I never got to see. It was too far and we did not have transportation.
My brother found the way to instill in me the love for learning. He was my inspiration. For years I questioned his optimism and then I realized that I am just like him. I wanted to do better. I wanted a better life. A life that would allow me to offer my children what life had deprived us of. My brother ingrained in me the most powerful gift a human being could receive, the love for learning and the importance of perseverance.
There are not enough words to describe the emotions that covered my entire body as I unwrapped the gift. The gratitude that I feel for my brother is cherished in my heart and no one could take this away.
I believe in perseverance, love, wisdom, but most importantly, I Believe in making a difference in someone’s life. That is what we “Educators” do everyday.