Inspiration, History, Independence, & The Message of One Charismatic Women

16 Mar

This is the third in a series of pieces on how volunteering in Anse la Raye, St. Lucia with Global Volunteers, working toward raising the IQ of a nation, fundamentally changed my husband Dan and me. The two weeks we spent on the island in this village made us reach well beyond where we thought we were capable of going and moved us so far outside our comfort zones that we had to change how we “saw” the world. P1170064 (2)

Each morning of my service program I walked through the gates of the Primary School in Anse la Raye. Each day the students were lined up on the concrete walk leading to their classrooms. Each morning I was greeted by the powerful voices of staff members delivering the messages of the day or honoring students.

In the middle of my first week, one that ended in St. Lucia’s Independence Day, I walked up as the third grade teacher, Ms. Aleen Edward, was delivering the morning messages.  Ms. Edward, by her presence, her posture and her attitude, commands respect like no one I have ever met. When she speaks, everyone in earshot feels compelled to absolutely pay attention.

In her powerful voice she delivered this question: “What does it mean to be independent?”  And then, after the most perfectly timed pause, “Independence does not mean doing your own thing. Independence means doing the right thing, your own way.”

She went on to deliver the most soul stirring summary of the importance of independence from slavery and outside rule.  And then, just when I thought I could not be more moved, Ms. Edward took my breath away.

“Do the right thing, the positive thing, the good thing in your own way.”

This hard driving, young woman went on with such passion. “Learn from those who are working hard to do the right thing. They learn, they study, they respect,” she said.

She took a deep breath and in a calm but firm voice continued, “Be independent thinkers and independent learners.”

Ms. Edward turned up the volume just a bit and repeated, “Independence is not doing your thing. Independence is doing the right thing your own way.”

Up another notch and, “Read it and say it confidently.”

The whole school – students, teachers, staff, and I – repeated after her:

Independence is not doing your own thing. Independence is doing the right thing your own way.

“Say it again,” she said.

Independence is not doing your own thing. Independence is doing the right thing your own way.

And then louder and louder and louder with each recital.

In the classroom Ms. Edward commands this same respect and moves many of her students to action. She is passionate about teaching and leading and I felt that every time she was near.

Yes, Ms. Edward expects a lot from her students and she drives them very hard but Ms. Edward gets results. I watched student want to perform to get her approval. I watched postures and degree of intensity change simply because Ms. Edward asked a question. That is an amazing and awe-inspiring quality and one that I don’t see, or at least don’t recognize, in my day-to-day life.

As I listened to Ms. Edward that morning, every inch of my body filled with goose bumps, I knew I wanted to write about her and share the story of the impact of one powerful, charismatic woman on this one day on this little school in Anse la Raye.

And I thought about my recurring theme:

One intention, one thought, one action, one moment, one person at a time is the only way to change the status quo.P1170083 (2)

Ms. Edward is moving the needle in a powerful direction. It may not be the right direction for every single child – nothing ever is – but she is a rare, motivating force who inspires those around her to aspire to maximize their personal potential. I remain in awe.

Again….

One intention, one thought, one action, one moment, one person at a time is the only way to change the status quo.

19 Responses to “Inspiration, History, Independence, & The Message of One Charismatic Women”

  1. Tam Warner Minton March 16, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

    I love that…independence is doing the right thing your way!

  2. Carol Cassara (@ccassara) March 16, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    And they call it “third” world. Ha.Not so third to me! I love living this through you. Want to live it with you.

    • Ruth March 16, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

      Hop on board next time! Wouldn’t that just be amazing :)!

  3. Ellen Dolgen March 16, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

    “Independence is not doing your own thing. Independence is doing the right thing your own way.” I love this! What a beautiful mantra!

    • Ruth March 16, 2015 at 9:49 pm #

      It is isn’t it Ellen. And Ms. Edward is such a powerhouse. Thanks you so much!

  4. Helene Cohen Bludman March 16, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

    “Independence is not doing your own thing. Independence is doing the right thing your own way.” What a wise woman and what a powerful statement. Truly something to live by, Ruth. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Ruth March 16, 2015 at 9:50 pm #

      No kidding! She is incredibly powerful! Thanks Helene!

  5. Roz Warren March 16, 2015 at 7:52 pm #

    Inspiring! A good teacher can change the world.

    • Ruth March 16, 2015 at 9:58 pm #

      You have got that right Roz!

  6. Cheryl Nicholl March 16, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

    If only all of our children had strong leadership, inside and out of school. Wonderful series btw.

    • Ruth March 16, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

      I am so glad you are enjoying the series Cheryl and yes, we all need those kinds of role models and reminders :)!

  7. Tammy March 16, 2015 at 10:00 pm #

    Ruth, am truly loving this series. Living vicariously through you and learning so much. Sometimes all we really need is some reassurance, encouragement and someone backing us up. This was an awesome sharing. Thanks you!

    • Ruth March 16, 2015 at 10:43 pm #

      Thanks so much Tammy for the kind words and for coming along for the trip :)!

  8. Ines Roe March 16, 2015 at 10:28 pm #

    One intention, one thought, one action, one moment, one person at a time is the only way to change the status quo. – I am very moves my that quote it is such a powerful thought that every little bit can make a huge impact and a lasting change. Thank you for the inspiring blog

    • Ruth March 16, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

      Sometimes breaking things into their smallest parts helps us gain perspective doesn’t it? Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment!!!

  9. Lois Alter Mark March 17, 2015 at 12:14 am #

    That is awesome, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some young girl is thinking the same thing about Ms. Ruth.

  10. Andi March 17, 2015 at 2:31 am #

    Mrs. Edwards has re-inspired me a bit. After reading several of your posts with the dictator-like principal, it is good to see someone who instills inspiration rather than fear!

  11. Carolann March 17, 2015 at 2:49 am #

    I still adore the teachers that have inspired me. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until college that I met some. It a huge deal for a teacher to make a difference in a person’s life. I love that quote about independence…that will have to go somewhere where I see it daily!

  12. Estelle March 17, 2015 at 5:10 am #

    My husband’s creed it to “do the right thing,” and this sounds a lot like that. I think it’s so wonderful what this woman and you are doing.

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