I recently finished the book, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. A beautiful and harrowing story of migration, Hamid addresses the delicate fragility of the unknown through the delicate placement of his words. These particular ones caused me pause.
“…and she had known the names of almost everyone on her street, and most had been there a long time, they were old California, from families that were California families, but over the years they had changed more and more rapidly, and now she knew none of them, and now all these doors from who knows where were opening, and all sorts of strange people were around, people who looked more at home than she was, even the homeless ones who spoke no English, more at home maybe because they were younger, and when she went out it seemed to her that she too had migrated, that everyone migrates, even if we stay in the same houses our whole lives, because we can’t help it.
We are all migrants through time.”
As a summer school principal, I was a migrant. I traveled from a place where I knew the streets and people well, to an alien land where I became the intruder. A transplant. Just as an organ works to connect to the new body it’s been placed, I too, sought to connect to a main artery in this community.
This foreign land was mere miles from my daily “home,” yet I might as well have been thousands of miles away. To this end, we keep our sense of community too small. It centers around my school, my neighborhood, my church, my family. Communities are much wider than this, but we keep them narrow. Narrow is safe and means I don’t have to extend myself as much. I position myself in a place where I feel comfortable my needs will be met. What about others’ needs? Communities aren’t supposed to be self-serving. Communities are about connecting and building a foundation of belonging. It moves beyond focus on self to focus on others, upholding a more universal ideal.
So, this year I’m looking for the migrants. The misfits, the rebels, the outsiders.
Those who feel lost amidst an educational landscape that’s become unrecognizable.
Those navigating the construct of a system to work for their kids.
Those joining new teams.
Those teaching new grades.
The frustrated and defeated.
The beaten and bloody.
Young and old alike.
I’m looking for the migrants.
I’m saying, “Let’s connect. You are not alone.”