January 25th, 2017: Presence & Compassion

A Small Group with a Big Impact
Last night’s small group reflection was pretty impactful after an eye opening day.  I have made a relationship with a certain fourth grader who has affected me greatly.  He has made me learn so much about myself and made small group emotional for myself last night. When I woke up this morning, I had not forgotten about small group last night and I wrestled with how I would deal with today especially with my new friend.  He stuck by my side most of the day with his arm interlocked around my arm constantly reminding me that I am his “best friend.”  I see myself in him and I feel that is why I have latched on to him at the school.  He has answered my question for the trip, “what can I learn about myself that I don’t already know?”  The answer he has given me was not one I was looking for, but makes a great amount of sense.  He is one of the kindest kids there and his always making sure I’m included and not alone.  In science today we went outside to look at the different forms of water.  When we lined up he quickly lined up next to me grabbing me tightly and showing his excitement to go outside.  He has a hard time reading and I have nothing but joy watching his excitement when he figures out to say words like “breathing” and “manuscript.”  I don’t give him answers or tell him how to say some words and it is very exciting to see him figure it out on his own and give his exciting “Oh!”  Earlier in the week I had some trouble with another student.  I had to repeatedly put a pencil in his and get him to lift his head and write one letter at a time.  Today, the same thing started happening in science.  I went to work with him again and threw a bunch of positivity and got the notes down.  Seeing him finish his notes and the realization that he had completed his assignment was rewarding as well.  Towards the end of the day, it was frustrating trying to teach one of the girls the values of numbers and that the first 5 in 5,555 does not equal 5, but 5,000.  I stuck with her and she stuck with me and we finally got it done together.  I could tell she was frustrated as I was, especially when she at one point said, “I just don’t get it.”  She offered me half of her Rice Krispy Treat in the midst of both our frustrations trying to complete the math assignment.  At the end of the day I am extremely tired, but so inspired to go in tomorrow morning to see these fourth graders and spend the day with them.  ~Jake
Another Day in the Artic
When walking into school today, everyone had the mindset that this was our second to last day and we have to make an impact soon on our students because our week was coming to an end. When entering into my first class, I realized that today was going to be a rough one. While working on their essays with them, all the students wanted was for Malcolm and I to write their papers for them. When we both refused, they began to become frustrated and they carried that grudge throughout the day. While helping a student in math, all she wanted was answers to the problems, and when I refused and encouraged her to do it herself, she threw a fit and wanted to give up. As I have learned throughout this week, you need to show them one step at a time and explain how easy the work really is in order for them to complete it. I told her to do the problems she knew, and after a few refusals, she ended up completing almost the entire worksheet. She is a very intelligent young girl but she does not have the drive in order to complete her assignments. This week has blessed me with the patience in order to work with each of my children positivity and with encouragement. With working with the kids every day and developing relationships with each one of them, I have realized that I may want to volunteer or work in this type of community later in my life. I have been emotionally affected by these children and they make me second guess my profession later in life. This experience is truly a “once in a life time” type of experience and I am fortunate enough to play a small part in each of the students’ lives. ~Ben

Take a Walk
After we got back from school, Mr. Parisi asked Sam and I to put on our shoes and get our coats without telling us where we were going. I was not really sure what Mr. Parisi was doing with us and I could only assume I was in trouble. After a quick drive, Sam and I had to get out of the car to unlock the gate to enter the driveway to an old church. We cracked open the door to this empty and eerie church. Mr. Parisi let me know that I was not in trouble, but that he wanted to challenge me a little bit and talk with me about some of my experiences this week.  I think Sam came along because I’ve been friends with him since elementary school and he was a good person for me to talk with tonight. I never expected to be sitting with the same kid at night in a practically abandoned church. Times like these make me thankful to be on this trip and connect with people, where we do not have phones to occupy our times and are forced to encounter the company of another person and truly live in relationship. Conversations become worth a lot more when you are actually connecting with another person, not just throwing out superficial thoughts just to say something.  ~Kyle
Brother John sent us an email tonight wishing us well and letting us know he was following along with our blog and our adventure out west.  He reminded us that the only way this experience might be transformational is if we allow it to travel back home with us and change our encounters and relationships when we get back home. His message is something we took to heart during our reflection this evening and something that we challenged one another to do as we pack up and head home in just 36 hours.  Thanks also to our parents, teachers, and former Montana Immersion students who have sent emails, called, or just kept us in prayer throughout the week.  ~ The 2017 Montana Immersion Students