School for Hope

How would you define school? Webster defines school as an organization that provides instruction, or the process of teaching and learning. In America, everyone has the ability and, up to a certain age, duty to attend school by law; however, in most countries where poverty is prevalent, they have a definition for school that is drastically different. Most would sum it up in just one word, hope.

The ability to go to school is a privilege in Haiti and other parts of the world, not a guarantee. It is so highly regarded throughout the culture that tuition to pay for school is listed just under food in the priorities for the family. Every parent wants their children to go to school and create a better life for themselves. They want to offer hope for a brighter future.

While I was in Haiti earlier this year, I would wake up every morning during the week and see young children dressed exceptionally in their school uniforms walking sometimes up to an hour or more to attend school. They want to learn. They view school as the avenue to lift them out of the poverty or rut they are in. Without education, they will have a slim chance of earning an income that will be sufficient to provide food for their family to eat.

I couldn’t help but think of how I viewed school when I was younger. I did not have that same zeal to attend. Do you remember asking your mom if you could stay home from school? You probably tried to fake a sickness or would come up with an elaborate excuse so that you could stay home and not have to attend school that day. I know that’s what I would do; luckily my mom never let it happen. This is unfathomable in most countries. Why would someone not want to learn? It does not make sense to people who view education as the avenue for hope.

As this new school year begins, I could not help but reflect on my time in Haiti and the children there. Each day they were up before the sun came up to start the journey to school. Even though they live each day in levels of poverty not known to many people in the Western World, they know what education offers them and they will make every sacrifice needed so that they can go to school. Please take just a moment and be grateful for the opportunity you have been given to learn and improve your chance of earning a decent living.

For most people in America, school can turn into a chore or a hassle and not a privilege and a chance to improve their knowledge. How much more could we get out of education if we viewed school as an opportunity for advancement as opposed to a boring ritual that is required of us? Take a step back and realize what a blessing it is to live in a country where every child has the opportunity of attending school and obtaining and education. We have hope for a better life.

Bryan Clifton

Oklahoma City, OK