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July 12, 2010 / alunatunes

Seeking Enchantment

Live your life as if it is an increasingly enchanting experience.- unknown

I taught ESL (English as a Second Language) in the 90’s, at the very infancy of the program. For several years I had been an assistant teacher in a third grade classroom. In early 1992, the school enrolled a young boy from South Korea and I fell in love. He was a sweet child and part of my day was spent walking around the school with him, teaching him new words. When he brought sushi for lunch, I sat at the table and had some with him, a new experience. When his parents invited me over to dinner, and his mom  into her kitchen to learn new dishes, I watched eagerly.

A position opened for a permanent traveling ESL teacher, and I applied and was hired. There was no true structure. No template at that point for teaching refugee children or new immigrants. I loved my children and did all I could to help them learn a new language and culture. Sometimes, all they wanted to do was sit and cry and I let them. Often I did it with them, my heart breaking at their struggle.

But within this dynamic of hardship for my students,  I found an inexhaustible well of enchantment in them as well. Home visits were particularly magical. As a freelance teacher, I was unencumbered by the presence of principals, administrators or other “threatening” presences when I visited.

Visiting the home of Indian teenager Trupti Tapawalla was one of those enchanting experiences. I walked into a large home divided by brightly colored curtains hung from clothesline drapped from one end of the room to the other. It was common for many people to live in one home; grandmothers and grandfathers shared space with moms and dads and children. The blowing,  colorful curtains took the place of walls and gave the whole home a tentlike appearance, like something from a dream of desserts and nomads.

Around every billowing curtain peeked another brown and beautiful face, great dark eyes peering. Each excursion into another room would reveal children, adults, wrinkly grandmas and grandpas all dressed in sari or other native dress. The kitchen was buzzing with the making of chapatis and curry potatoes to the flowing tune of Farsi.

As a girl from a small town who never traveled, I reveled in a visit to another country, another culture, new friends and new things to learn right in my own backyard. I fell under the sweet spell of foreign cuisine, time, place, religion and people.

Often the key to enchantment is perception. We can see life around us as staid or we can recognize everything happening around us is a truly and increasingly enchanting experience.

Peer around your own curtains, nooks and crannies today and discover magical and mysterious things. Whether it’s the bloom of a flower or the laughter of a child, enchantment is yours for the taking.


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