I believe in understanding. I believe that every person is special and contributes something unique to our world. Whether it is big or small it is still something that distinguishes them from everyone else. It took me until I was almost a senior in high school to come to this revelation. At the end of my junior year I was in need of an elective, so my guidance counselor volunteered me into being a peer tutor for the special needs children. At first I was hesitant, I had never really interacted with people with special needs and I was worried that I would hate it. There were about six kids in my class, all with different levels of needs, and I was paired with the most severe student.
Her name was Rebecca and she was fifteen years old. She could not talk, with the exception of about three words, she couldn’t go to the bathroom by herself, she was violent and she was on the level of about a three year old. I was told that she was not cooperative and that it was best if she just did things that were easy. I tried that at first, we sorted cards, crayons, and pastas by shape and color. About a week into the class I noticed that Rebecca only acted up when she was bored of doing the same things over and over again. Rebecca still wasn’t very fond of me and resented doing her projects by throwing things and crying. I had an idea, I let Rebecca make choices on what she wanted to do, I let her pick out books and color pictures for special people. She began to warm up and began to sit with me without argument and she even began calling me by my name.
By the end of the semester Rebecca had learned so many things, and so had I. She learned her ABC’s more fluently, where the emergency exits were located, and she had a crush on my boyfriend. I learned that Rebecca was smarter than people gave her credit for, she loved cats and that I was so thankful for being her helper. Rebecca taught me, in her own special way, that you can’t always judge a book by its cover. She taught me that inside everyone is their own special light that will shine if you only give them the chance. The more I began to understand, the easier it was for me to not be judgmental and to truly love that person. Rebecca will never truly know her impact on my life, but it is one that I know I will never forget.
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