This year I tried something new in my English class: "This I Believe" essays inspired by the NPR series. Students read, listened to, and discussed a variety of essays then created their own. Throughout the unit I contemplated my own beliefs as I tried to write my own essay. Today as I was walking to the train to work I realized what I believe in.
I believe in getting to know the people in your neighborhood, having a familiar face to greet you as you leave and another to greet you on your way home. Someone who lets the rest of your neighborhood know, "Hey, she belongs here and I got her back."
I believe in starting your day off right, on a positive note. You may be running late or stressed about what the day will hold, but she is always there with a smile, a hello, and a "Have a blessed day" at 7:30am.
The crossing guard provides a fresh start to the day or just a reminder of how much better it feels to start the day off friendly and smiling. A pleasant interaction before you step onto the crowded train where people push and shove, pretend not to see the elderly, disabled or pregnant woman hovering over them, more deserving of a seat, and yell, curse, kick, and spit at each other if someone's newspaper gets crinkled in the cluster fuck.
Once you cross paths with the crossing guard, you can commute peacefully, ignoring the grumps that fill the train. Later, you take the crossing guard's aura to your classroom and spread it to each student who enters. A friendly hello and a smile to all whether they return your greeting or not.
I believe in saying hello to the people you see every day. In bringing a smile to those you know. I believe in kindness in all our daily interactions. I believe in the bodega guy at the end of a long day, always there to greet you as you pass his corner, "Hello friend. How are you?"