Oh, I have neglected to introduce the summer’s cast of characters, haven’t I? Well, as I said at the end of last term, there are several students who are continuing with me in the summer — Josefina, Desirée, Jackie, Jamila and Leila. (Haiam was supposed to continue, but he didn’t like that news and has chosen not to show up … which will, of course, mean that he will be back in my class in September, sullen and uncooperative and certain that he’s been wronged.)
And then there are the news kids on the block … but not all of them are new … and not all of them are kids.
There’s Cheo, an older Puerto Rican man who has been in the program a while. Prior to coming into my class, he spent two terms in the daytime version of my level. He’s frustrated by that, anxious to move on. J___ was his teacher, and he warned me that Cheo might be more than a little disruptive and difficult. He’s a little overwhelming, at first, but I think the fact that I’m clearly much older than J___ makes Cheo respond differently to me. I think we’ll be ok. And then there’s Miguel, an older Mexican man with a beautiful face and gorgeous silvering hair. He’s moved up from the daytime Basic Education class. B___, his last instructor, talked with me about Miguel at the end of last term. He really wanted to move Miguel up but was feeling protective of him, not wanting to see him swallowed by some of the volatile 16-25 energy that can make night classes more than a little crazy. Miguel’s holding his own so far.
Then there’s Marino who wrote about being homeless and alone, who laughs at the jokes but also looks unsure, who holds himself a little separate from the group. And Kyle, who I don’t have much of a sense of yet. He makes me think of boys I went to high school with: part of the mid-level in-crowd, not drawing the spotlight if he doesn’t have to, going along to get along. We’ll see.
And then there are the ladies. I have two new Chinese students, Miao, who has chosen the American name “Mary,” and Hue Wen whose American name is Sonia. Sonia hasn’t been around much, but Miao is present and accounted for, an active participant. I’m hoping her outgoing behavior in the class will help Leila come a little more out of her shell, talk up more in the group.
There’s Tiffany, who introduced herself by saying she’s half Puerto Rican, half black. I’m not sure I’ll see Tiffany again, though. I think Cheo might have scared her off. He was a little overly interested in finding out more about her that first night she came to class. She had transferred from the day class and by the end of the night I was certain she’d want to switch back. I haven’t seen her since.
And finally there’s Noemi who wants to be called NeNe. She is Mexican, which fact shocked everyone — the whole class assumed she was from PR. “Everybody always be saying that,” she said. “I can’t help how y’all people think.” No indeed. She mostly looks annoyed or bored, but when she looks up from her work (and away from her Sidekick), she’ll sometimes smile at something that’s going on in the class. It opens her whole face.
They’re an interesting group together. I can already see that some drama started during the week I missed, that there’s something up between Desirée, Josefina and NeNe. It seemed slightly disruptive but mostly harmless last week. Last night it felt a little less harmless and looks as if I’ll have to have a talk with Desirée. We’ll see.
So that’s the new crew. I have so little time with them (just another two and a half weeks!), it’s hard to imagine really getting much of anything done, to say nothing of really getting to see who they are and the best ways to work with them. But we’ll do what we can.