Guadalajara: Names

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Miguel (alias “Sin Nombre”) displays his name tag.

 
 
 

My three-week volunteer assignment?
 
Teaching as much English as I can to a group of sixth-graders at the Salvation Army’s Hogar de Niños in Guadalajara.
 
How much English is that? Not much, I’m afraid. There’s only so much you can accomplish in an hour a day.
 
But we do what we can, and because each day’s lesson is punctuated with singing, we have fun doing it.
 
Monday was the first day of class. I came prepared with name tags, even though I already knew some of the students from last summer.
 
They grabbed the multi-colored Sharpies® and got right to work. What a relief to be able to call everyone by name!
 
For three days, I began the class by handing out name tags for the students to decorate and wear. Then Thursday, I didn’t.
 
Mournful faces! You would have thought I had snatched candy out of their hands just as they were ready to eat it!
 
“Tomorrow,” I promised. “I’ll bring the name tags tomorrow.”
 
I did, and they were happy.
 
And why shouldn’t they be?
 
A name is the most wonderful sound in the world to the one who bears it. It sounds pretty wonderful to those who love them too.
 
“Whisper her name at the stars/ and they will shout back, mercy,” Mexican poet Luis Cotto-Vasallo writes in his poem “She.”
 
A name tag is not a star, and it won’t make you a star, but it is a way to hear your name on the lips of someone else.
 
Your name. The most beautiful sound in the world.
 
Mercy!
 
 

Little brown sparrow,
my phone is now on silent—
will you come to me?

 

Text and photo © 2017 by Mark M. Redfearn, all rights reserved

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2 responses »

  1. That’s lovely, Mark. In understanding their sadness, your heart shows. I saw a tv news program the other day where some teachers are giving their entire lessons in music (in this case rap) and the students were learning at a very fast pace. It was amazing to watch.

  2. Loved reading this Mark. Yes. Hearing one’s name said out loud is so important. I am glad you can give this gift to your students. They will always remember this time with you.

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