When Bob & I first moved from California to Montana back in 2006, I was a recently retired educator with over 30 years of teaching/administrating under my belt. I was not really ready to “hang it up.” You know, “Once a teacher, always a teacher.”
So, when I joined the Friends of the Library and received a message from a young man who was seeking help to earn his GED (I think that stands for: General Education Diploma, but it might be Graduation Equivalence Diploma) … anyway, I was all in.
Zahid was a 19 year old from Pakistan whose English was sketchy enough that he had trouble understanding the questions, let alone knowing the answers. I agreed to help him with the English/Language Arts/History areas while a good friend worked with him in the areas of Science and Math.
His host mom would drop him off at our house at 7:30 AM three times a week, and after an hour of study, I’d drive him to his place of work, just five minutes away. During our hours together, one of my greatest challenges was teaching Zahid that it’s OK to say, “I don’t know.” He tried to bluff his way through answers. It was often quite amusing!
Once Zahid learned to say, “I don’t know,” and admit to needing help with the answers, we made great progress. He eventually passed and got his high school equivalent diploma. Hooray!
2.It’s OK to… Feel all the Emotions
Zahid tried to hide his lack of knowledge and his feelings of discouragement. He tried to hide his frustrations. He attempted to bluff his way through the quizzes. It didn’t work. When he learned to let his emotions show, when he opened himself to being “real” with me, we made great progress.
3. It’s OK to… have Bad Days
Life is not always fair. Even with hard work and the best of intentions, our dreams don’t always pan out. The first time Zahid took his test for the credential, he failed. Without encouragement and a shoulder to cry on, he might have folded. He might have said, “Give it up! I can’t do this!” But, we didn’t let that happen. His host mom and dad joined our Positivity Club – and together we helped “Z” keep at it, learn from his mistakes, try again, and ultimately pass.
4. Its OK to …Let Yourself Cry
Once “Z” passed his GED, the next goal was to pass his driver’s behind-the-wheel and written tests and get a driver’s license. He worked hard at it.
My husband, Bob, is a retire teacher. (If you’ve followed my blog for awhile, you know he also is a retire beekeeper. But before he went back to the family bee farm, he taught driver’s education and coached wrestling for nine years in California.) So, Bob was a natural to help “Z” get his driver’s license.
Once that goal was accomplished, the next step was to buy a car. Zahid had saved the money he earned working at the local grocery store. He had enough to pay for a good “starter car.” But the problem that emerged was that he had no idea how to take care of a car. That’s where the “It’s OK to let yourself cry” comes in. He burned up the car’s engine by not checking the oil, the water, etc. The tears were real! It was a sad lesson in the reality of truth #5…
5. It’s OK to …Ask for Help
Bob would have been more than happy to help “Z” learn the basics of car maintenance, but Zahid never asked. It was a tough, expensive lesson. But “Z” learned it. He asked Bob to help him find a new engine. He did… and “Z” learned to ask for help in car maintenance in the future. That car gave him several years of reliable service and actually made it from Montana to Alaska when “Z” moved there for better job opportunities.
6. It’s OK to …Make Mistakes
Looking back over our experiences with that young Pakistani, we know we made mistakes, just as he did. We backed off when we should have moved forward and been more assertive with him. He tried bluffing and exercising independence when admitting his lack of knowledge and asking for help would have served him better. But, he learned – and so did we.
As long as we learn from our mistakes, it’s OK. In fact, making mistakes is sometimes the ONLY way we learn. Knowing what doesn’t work helps us eliminate some options and seek better solutions.
Don’t try to have all the answers.
Don’t be ashamed of your emotions. Be real. Let them show!
Don’t let the bad days get you down. We need valleys in order to appreciate the mountain tops!
Don’t hold back the tears. Let them flow when they need to. Let them cleanse you!
Admit your ignorance. None of us is an expert at everything. Ask for help when you need it.
Don’t let mistakes get you down. No one is perfect. We need to make mistakes in order to learn and move forward.
It’s OK to … select friends who lift you up, encourage you, and give you a shoulder to cry on when you need it.
It’s OK to … BE one of those friends. Happy, warm, genuine. Even long-distance, over the miles, through cyberspace, you can reach out and be the positive friend others are seeking.
Just do it! It’s OK…
Thank you for your visit, your comments and your friendship,
When I read this post by Parashar in India today, I was inspired to share it with you because I think we all should read it and think about our ability to MAKE A DIFFERENCE in our own little part of the world. We don’t have to be an actor, or a millionaire, or somebody big and famous. You and I sitting right here at our computers, wherever we are in the world, can get up, go out, open our eyes and hearts, and see a need. Make that plural! There are so many people in need of the blessings we have to give. They are all around us. We can help! Click on this link, read what “Parashar’s Tales” has to say, and then come on back to JanBeek. I’ll tell you a tale of my own… one about seeing, doing, giving, and making a difference that keeps on giving. It’s what life is all about!
My story is about Zahid. When I met him five years ago, he was a nineteen-year-old from Pakistan, living in a remote part of Montana, receiving medical treatment, and wanting to pass his GED. I was a recently retired educator who had spent 24 years in the classroom, a dozen or so years as an administrator, and a few years post-retirement working with illiterate adults – teaching them to unlock the codes to enter the world of printed words. My husband, recently retired and looking for a vacation destination in which to live, chose this fly-fishing mecca – and we came from California to south-west Montana – ready to enjoy our Golden Years. It didn’t take me long to get involved in the community. Among my passions is reading, so I joined the Friends of the Library. That’s where Zahid came into my life. He was here in the USA on a medical visa, receiving treatment for burns that had ravaged his body when he was a little boy. A remarkable family hosted him in Oregon about a decade ago when Save the Children selected him and sent him from Pakistan to a burn center in the USA for help with his scars and disfigurements. About a year later, he returned to his home – still needing treatment – but his VISA would expire, so he and his family worked for the next decade to try and renew the VISA in order to give him another chance for specialized treatment. By the time he obtained it, they had retired from Oregon to Montana. As fate would have it, we all ended up in this darling little community at about the same time. Zahid asked the librarian if she knew someone who could tutor him. She sent out an e-mail request to the Friends. I responded.
That’s the key, my friends. I responded! Five years later, Zahid has reached out to many as he set goals and accomplished each one with the help of people just like you and me. Found a tutor to help him (that was me – check!), obtained his GED (hooray – check!), received political asylum (check!), got a green card and a job (check!), pays his taxes just like you and me (check!), passed his driver’s test (check!), bought a car (check!), learned to change the oil and check the tire pressure and take care of his car with my husband’s help (check!), applied for and was accepted at a two-year college (check!), moved to dormitory housing at the college (check!), got a job with the school’s housing department to help pay his room and board (check!), successfully completed year one of college (check!), found a tutor for his pharmacy tech test (check!), passed the test to get into the pharmacy tech school at the college (check!), landed a job at the college pharmacy (check!)… The list goes on… and Zahid will continue to set his goals and accomplish them, checking them off one at a time, and looking back and staying connected with those who have helped him along the way ( including his parents back in Pakistan), thanking them in a multitude of ways. One day he will return to his home. His goal is to build a hospital in his hometown, to make treatment for boys like him possible right there someday. I have every confidence that down the road a ways he will check that off his list. It may not be in my lifetime, but I will have played a small part in each of those successes along the way. My heart is full as I see this young man moving forward to make a difference in his world.
We never know the ripple effect when we reach out to help someone. It continues into eternity. We never know… but God does! Can we change a nation?You bet! We can change the world. One person at a time. Get up, go out, look around. You have the future in front of you – needing the blessings only you have to give.