I went to Haiti on a mission trip and grew accustomed to being speechless. Some children would wake up before dawn, hike miles up a mountain side for water, trek back to their home, and attend school. During the trip, I taught English to a class of second graders. When one student failed to get a word right, they would be frustrated with themselves. Their frustration did not stem from the fear of failure, but their desire to learn as much as possible.
These second graders learned 30 English phrases in days. They wanted more and we couldn’t give them more words. I was squatting in a cinder-block lean-to with dirt floors and a tarpaulin roof and all the kids desired was knowing more. They didn’t plead for shoes or a meal; they wanted mental sustenance. I was humbled. I had been privileged with a school, clean drinking water, tiles under my feet, and a solid roof over my head my entire life. In our society, knowledge has been reduced to a dreaded mandatory task. For these children, knowledge would give them the opportunity to free themselves from poverty.