My Students #MakeMercyReal to Me
September 20, 2017
By Meg, Mercy candidate
Meg is a Mercy candidate—one of the steps to become a Sister of Mercy—living in Guyana.
Throughout my journey as a candidate in the past year, I have been touched and humbled by Mercy in many ways. The primary way has been through my students. I teach science at a public secondary school which takes in many of the lowest performing students in the area. A majority of these students come from broken homes, and most already feel defeated in their ability to succeed in life before they step into the school compound. Their lack of confidence and insecurity with academics contributes to some very interesting behaviors in the classroom.
I entered this ministry coming from an experience of teaching at a private, Catholic high school which served students from a middle-to-upper economical background. My experiences and expectations of teaching in a secondary school were deeply challenged by this new ministry, which called me to step into the shoes of my students. Sometimes, I didn’t even know where to begin this process of stepping into their shoes; it was so different from my realities! However, as I began to ask my students about their interests, their families, their homes and their dreams, I got a better glimpse of their lives. The common theme among most students was a lack of stability in their homes and a lack of people to serve as positive role models in their lives. Many had failed in school so many times that by this point in their education, they did not feel competent at anything, and, in a way, believed they never could be.
A Vessel of Mercy
As I listened to one girl in particular talk about the instability of her home and her fears of the consequences from disappointing her parents, I was moved with compassion. This was a student who came by everyday, whether she had science or not, to offer a “good day” greeting or ask how I was that particular day. In the classroom, she had a hard time understanding content but really tried to do her best. The frustration showed when she could not grasp all the work. Putting the joy and energy that she shared with me into the context of the story of her life touched me deeply. It was a moment of realizing that she and all of my students are vessels of Mercy each time I encounter them. Despite the feelings of instability, insecurity, and defeatedness that this girl left home with each morning, she was there to greet me with a smile, every day revealing the joy within the face of Mercy.
The grace of this moment deepened my understanding of Mercy, which requires no great act, but rather small gestures or words given out of joy and out of genuine love. Although I will never fully understand the reality of my students’ lives, I am grateful to learn from them every day. I am especially grateful for the gift of Mercy through them, despite my many stumblings in learning to work in a new school culture!