Kentucky Refugee Ministries
I had a rather unsettling experience the other day while teaching ESL at Kentucky Refugee Ministries here in Louisville. We have students from all over the world in the class room: The Congo, Cuba, Somalia, Syria, and Iraq to name a few.
One of the other teachers in the class room was teaching a lesson on home and asked the students to name their home, as in what countries they came from.
She declared she was from Arkansas and then asked the students to name where their home was and they answered in turn. Then, for for some inexplicable reason, she turned to me and asked, “Benn where is your home?”
Well she caught me by surprise and at that moment I was dumbstruck because I literally could not think of an answer and it was at that moment I realized I did not have a home.
So I said, “I don’t really think of any one place as home as I have lived all over.” Well she repeated this back to the class and as the words rang rather hollowly in my ears, she went on with the lesson.
If you miss the train I’m on, you will know that I am gone
I sat there stewing in the inadequacy of my lame answer and finally came up with a better one. I raised my hand and grabbed my hat!
“Here is my home,” I cried. Then I took my hat and hung it up on an imaginary nail on the wall behind me. “My home is any place I hang my hat!”
Claire dutifully repeated this back to the class, then she caught my eye with a moment of silent recognition, then said, “good one.”
When I moved back to Kentucky a few years ago I got into the car business for a while to make some quick easy money. I did this for a few years with a little time off to do some teaching in the Jefferson County School System.
One day while I was at the car lot a customer came in and said he wanted to take a look at that Land Rover we had on our lot. I said sure and proceeded to show it to him. During the course of our conversation I noticed a medallion hanging around his neck from a gold chain. I recognized the symbols on the medallion and I asked the man, “Say, were you ever a Philadelphia Police Officer?” “Why, yes,” he answered, “But I retired from the force to move down here.”
“Oh, I see. Well, I lived in Philly for 18 years and I recognized the medallion. What made you decide to move to Kentucky?”
“The cost of living is much cheaper here,” he answered. Which is true. “And I got a job teaching kids with learning disabilities here in Louisville. It’s an easy $50,000 a year. You should give it a try.”
“I just might,” I answered. Little did he know he was the inspiration for my short lived career as a teacher.
As we got to know each other a little better during the demonstration process he let me know that he also did a couple of tours in Iraq.
“Wow!” I said. “Let me ask you, I just have to know, what was more dangerous, Philly or Iraq?”
Without an instant’s hesitation he said Philly. I smiled because I was pretty sure I knew the answer to the question. I thanked him for his service. I didn’t sell him the car, but I got a good story out of the deal.