Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Last year, when I began my year of service at Detroit Cristo Rey High School, I knew I would get attached to students. I also knew pretty early on that one of those students would be Jasmine. Maybe it was because she was the first student I met, but I could just tell that she was special. (Note: I do love all my students I worked with last year. Every single one.)
Jasmine and I formed an instant bond. I learned, during one of our initial conversations, that she lost her mother at a young age and was raised by her sweet grandmother. I learned of her love for Michael Jackson, mainly because her mom loved him. His music gave her hope. Wise beyond her years, she was constantly holding mature, genuine conversations with me. She was so beyond the petty drama that the majority of her classmates were involved with, she loved getting to know her teachers on a personal level. She's funny, intuitive, and compassionate. She cares about other people and is not afraid to show it, which is rare for a high school student. We also shared a mutual love for music. We were always introducing each other to different songs and artists, writing down lyrics that we found inspiring. I remember one day in particular, when I casually mentioned Melinda Doolittle, Jasmine burst into tears. She told me that Melinda was her favorite Idol contestant ever, that Melinda had inspired her and helped her to have faith and hope. Sound familiar?
Our respect and admiration for Melinda and music was not the only thing we had in common. Jasmine and I just had this genuine understanding for each other. Even though she was my student, she looked out for me just as much as I looked out for her. Once, I was having a really really horrible day. She and another amazing student of mine, Marisa, pulled their desks up to mine so I couldn't leave the room. They said, very seriously "Talk, Miss Carolin. You're always listening to our problems, we want to hear yours". It was one of the sweetest things my students ever did for me, even though I couldn't exactly tell them what was bothering me, I made sure they knew I was grateful. I was also always looking out for Jasmine. I knew some days were hard for her, not only because of her circumstances but because she WAS so mature and grown up.
Jasmine and I had several other "moments" like the one I just mentioned. Another favorite of mine is when we were at the Garden Party, a fundraiser for the school, and the President of the board came to speak to the two of us. She said "You know, you two kind of look alike". We both smiled and nodded, not responding because we both knew- we don't look anything alike. I mean...at all. As soon as she walked away, we burst out laughing. Jasmine turned to me and said "It's because you're like my big sister". That meant the world to me. In a way, though, I know what the comment meant. We don't look alike, but we are a lot alike. Jasmine reminds me so much of myself when I was in high school- except she probably handles situations with much more grace than I did. But we share similar values, thoughts, and beliefs.
Jasmine is going to make an incredible impact on this world. She already has, with her sweet spirit, love for life, and passion for helping others. I can't wait to see where she goes from here. Jasmine, thank you for being a breath of fresh air during my year of service. Even though I am not there every day, I do think of you and keep you in my prayers. You continue to make me so so proud :)
Oh, to give you an example of how mature and gracious Jasmine is, here is part of one of the letters she gave me at the end of the year. (I left out part of it that talks about her struggles last year, for her sake).
Dear Miss Carolin,
The previous letter given to you by me was rushed and not appropriately written for a person of your caliber. You are a gift from Our Father an an over all joy to be around. You are giving, free spirited, and loving. You have a personality to die for. It has been a pleasure to have you here. I will never forget you. I will miss you. Love your dear friend and lil sister, Jasmine.