Today I had an amazing opportunity to see one of my educational heroes, her name is Erin Gruwell. For those of you who've seen Freedom Writers know who I'm talking about, for the rest of you let me introduce you to this amazing woman: Erin was a first year English teacher in 1994 at a pretty rough school in Long Beach, CA. She'd grown up in suburban California and with her first step into the classroom she realized she had absolutely no idea how to teach the kids in her eighth grade class. So I don't ruin the movie for you, I won't give too many details but lets just say that Erin was able to tap into their lives and make a difference.
The reason I've chosen to blog about this today was Erin was at UVU today. She spoke to an audience full of University faculty and staff and students (both at the university level and high school/jr high) to tell us about her story. Throughout the course of her lecture, I'm not going to lie, there were several times that I was moved to tears as I thought of the horror of the situations the kids in her classroom dealt with on a daily basis. At the end of her speech she left each of us with a challenge to make a difference; not necessarily by standing in front of a tank as other brave patriots have, done but by changing the life of the one. She said something that's stuck with me today and I hope will stick with me for the rest of my life, "most people don't need a handout, they need a hand up." Meaning that there are people who are in need of help, but rather than providing them with a couple bucks, provide them with an opportunity to overcome their current circumstances and rise to a higher level or life.
Today I've been re-motivated to be a sincere friend. To stand up for the one who is different, who is ostracized, who needs a smile and needs a friend. My challenge to you is to make a difference, however you see fit. Oh... and to watch Freedom Writers. :)