monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

2 minutes reading time (380 words)

Courage

I've been thinking a lot lately about courage. Maybe because the man in the room next to my mom's at the rehab centre has had an arm and a leg amputated on account of his cancer, yet he stillmanages to smile and wave every time I pass. Then there's his wife, Jane, who's almost always at his bedside, but still has the energy to ask how my mum is doing. When I think about how courageous this couple has to be, I feel almost ashamed that I've had to call on my own courage these last weeks in order to be a good daughter.

I've got some mighty courageous students, too. Yesterday, two of my students talked about how they recently moved to Canada. One's from Moscow and she's living here on her own. The other is a young man from China who barely spoke a word of English or French when he arrived two years ago. I can hardly imagine the kind of courage it must have taken them to learn new languages, make new friends and adjust to a new country and culture.

This afternoon, I had the privilege of meeting up with some more courageous young people. Photographer Monique Dykstra and I were working with Mrs. Childs's Resource Class at Nesbitt School in Rosemount. (We were there for Quebec Roots, an educational program sponsored by the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival .) These kids are in Resource Class because they have trouble learning in traditional ways. For them, every day at school takes a special kind of courage. Together with Mrs. Childs, they wrote a wonderful poem that captures their struggle. Mrs. Childs gave me the go-ahead to quote a few lines, so here they come: "In school/ the words on the page look like fuzzy dolphins/ swimming in a white sea." What I love is how concrete the images are, and how the words help me understand the students' experience.

So today I want to say three cheers to all the courageous young people out there, to Mrs. Childs's special class, and to Mrs. Childs for being such a wise and generous soul. And while I'm cheering, I should tell you that another one of my Journalism students had his letter published in today's Gazette. Way to go, Sean!

A Visit with our Friends at Tukisiniarvik School
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Friday, 30 October 2020

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