Knowing Where You Are


I TAKE a FOLDED PAPER MAP of the City of Louisville to ESL class with me and spread it out on a table. For many, it’s their first overall view of the city’s layout and they elbow in, trying to find their street.

That’s IF they know their address. Some do. Some don’t.

We worked on that last week when we talked about the post office, how to address an envelope and where the stamp goes. We had them address envelopes to themselves. Later, we native speakers jotted lines on blank notecards, tucked them in the envelopes and mailed them out to see if they will be delivered or returned to us.

Very few knew their address and I dread the thought of refugees traveling the city, unable to tell someone where they live. They just know where to board the bus, where to disembark and where to head after that. It gets them where they need to be, and that’s that. But I worry. I’m like the mother hen.

Some rifled through their bags, looking for a card or slip of paper with the information on it. The head teacher had thought ahead of time to obtain a list of addresses from the office. Even with that, there were a few who had moved since their arrival in the country, so all that needed to be straightened out.

Where exactly are you right now? Do you know? So many of us are used to our small screens, to see where we’re going. But do we know where we are right now? It’s a good question to ask.

This past Tuesday, many students came to class proudly showing the mail they’d received over the weekend.

A new volunteer joins us.  She’s eager to jump in.

I suggest she stand by the world map that hangs on the wall and ask students to point out where they came from. That world map gets them talking. If you ask, “Did you come by plane?” and make the hand motion for a plane, most hold up fingers to show how many planes they took, then point to various stops along the way.

One of the Cuban women keeps referring to Cuba as home and the others take her to task.

“THIS is your home now. You make a new home here, no?”

She’s here a month now and I await the day when she refers to here as home. It takes a while.

Since I’m in a poetry workshop at the moment and seeing poetry in everything, I thought I’d challenge myself to write in prose today. My roots are in prose, but it’s been a while since any has appeared here.


About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
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3 Responses to Knowing Where You Are

  1. slachie says:

    Just for the record – I love the prose – but for these little vignettes – I LOVE the poetry. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. pastordt says:

    I’m doing a very small 90 minute poetry workshop tomorrow afternoon – my first. Aargh – the whole poetry thing just makes me nervous! I happen to love your prose — and your poetry. So keep it comin’!

    Liked by 1 person

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