I was very disturbed this morning while reading a college essay one of my foreign students submitted. She wrote about a particular rite of passage in her country (Ghana) celebrating a girl's femininity- menarche & virginity. She wrote about how she felt excluded and the alibi she gave when people asked why she didn't celebrate yet. She said in her essay she was raped at age 4 by a caregiver and again later by a home instructor. Her parents were here in the US when that happened. I ran to the guidance office to show the counselor the essay and she was appalled so she brought it over to the assistant principal who kept it.
What I find inspirational about this particular student is her resiliency. When she first arrived in my class last year she seemed very withdrawn. I thought it was just the assimilation process that was daunting, because her older sister had no such problem. She became Americanized very quickly. I am hoping her sister makes it into my Alma Mater since I did everything but beg for her to get in. lol I only realized now, my student had faced overwhelming odds even before she arrived in the US. Yet, she has come out of her shell and is more active in class activities and student govt. I admire her resiliency.
She ended her essay saying she was inspired by an episode in the Oprah Winfrey show where Oprah shares her experience with rape. I guess if Oprah could overcome it, so could she. I wish this student much success and I'm sure she'll do well in college. She is not as academically strong as her older student who is a finalist for the Bill Gates Millennium scholarship- 10 yrs of undergrad & grad education. We're still waiting to see if she will win and if she makes it into Columbia U.