Fufu and Couscous

Love is in their faces, their projects, their need to share a piece of themselves. It is not in a test score, a school rating, a bad evaluation.

It is in this injera, moist and spongy, ready to soak up spices that I can’t quite identify. It is in this honey bread, sesame-topped, filled with cream cheese, soft and just made by a mother who embraced me with a hug all the way from Libya and a son who wouldn’t complete a project for the entire year until this one. It is in this tiny girl, now grown, whose quiet presence in my classroom for four years has blossomed with bright colors today as she wears her Karen “I’m-single” shirt and makes a plate to share the Burmese food with her next teacher.

It is in these voices that have found themselves connected by similar foods, colors as bright as their souls, and conflicts that they can only hope they’ll learn to leave behind. It is in the sentences that they have struggled to write in English, in the lyrics from their home countries they proudly play for our party , in the laughter and shared plates as they explain each other’s recipes with one pinch of language mixed with another.

Love is in their commute across two cities on three buses carrying trays as big as their hearts–noodles and rice, tacos and injera, fufu and couscous, immigrant and American. It is in their education–of how to navigate the city, how to navigate the school system, how to navigate a society that simultaneously persecutes and promotes them. It is in their hands, the same hands that shaped these samosas and try to learn to write a Roman alphabet, the hands that clap for each other and figure out how to type and balance a soccer ball and are open to the world around them.

It is in this day, this crazy Friday-before-spring-break day, when they share the world that is our classroom with their whole souls.

Love is here, in their faces. Their foods. Their projects.

In us. Open your eyes. Let me help you find the love.