30 May 2007

By train to Macondo

After 24 years, Gabriel García Márquez returned to Aracataca...on a train painted with yellow butterflies. The train left from Santa Marta late this morning and passed our school during lunch recess. Everyone flocked to the fence to watch history float by. Some of us stood on tables, while a hundred children raced to the end of the school grounds to watch that "magical train" pass. One of my students was riding it. She is nine.

Every recess just before lunch she sits by me while we watch the kids play soccer. She tells me stories from her week and the funny or startling things she's seen and heard. She began slipping me scraps of fiction at the beginning of the year, and I was so delighted and amused by her unconventional stories, I told her that although I'll treasure them forever, I don't want her to lose such great work. I found a blank notebook and she spent nearly an hour eagerly copying down her tales of the beautiful witch who jilted a hapless prince at the altar and flew to Rome and became a millionaire instead...of the girl who murdered the devil because he had once told her that he was her father, and then later (absentmindedly) told her to kill her father...of the man who walked out his front door, hit his head, and promptly forgot who he was...of the lonely sun and the lonely moon who found each other by chance, while the stars first ridiculed them, then attended their wedding... (There are also poems and songs.) It was only last week that I found out who her great-uncle is.

I look forward to sitting on that wooden balance beam tomorrow, watching the kids play soccer and listening to her tell the story of today. Maybe I'll even ask her to write it down.


Carrie said...

NO way! That is unbelieveable! How I would have loved to see that moment. The train with the yellow butterflies doing by the schoolyard! I loved hearing about your student too. THANK you for sharing this wonderful moment Ana!

amcorrea said...

I thought you'd love hearing about that, Carrie. (And it's the first time I feel that I've done something right as a teacher.)

Carrie said...

I am certain that just by sharing your love of literature, you are doing many things right as a teacher. That is the goal, isn't it? To spark that desire in a child to read, write or imagine their dreams? I still keep thinking about that train going by and your student. Wow! I have a dreamer student that makes amazing stories as well and I keep wondering, what can I do to keep this going in her and help her accomplish her dreams? She wants to save the rainforest, protect animals and feed the hungry and she is six years old! Yet, I see her struggle with depression and despair at times. She is extremely disorganized which causes her distress as well. Every student is so unique and different and you just hope that somehow you can help them to realize how unique and special they are. I always hope I do more good than harm...being a teacher is dangerous work.

amcorrea said...

It is. I'm learning that even just being a safe place (someone they can trust) counts for quite a lot. But yes, teaching is most definitely a dangerous business. Thanks for sharing all that!