I loved school. Especially the first day. You unpacked crayons, a glue stick, and sharp never-been-used pencils from your new backpack and hoped it would be a good year. As the teacher passed out the books, I would be so excited about what I would learn: cursive? Fractions? States and capitals? Each school year brought so much promise!
I must admit, for being so psyched about another year, by February or so I was done, over it, probably thanks to my teacher, my desk mate, or MATH.
Sadly, less than 60% of the world’s children are ever educated past secondary school, according to UNICEF.
I watched a documentary on Netflix last night called On the Way To School and it showed the risks children and their parents are willing to take to have something we in America take completely for granted: an education. These kids walk four to six hours a day through terrain as diverse as the Atlas Mountains to African plains, being responsible for younger siblings, and being wary of wild animals. Not only do these kids not complain, they go eagerly. One 11-year-old African boy and his 5-year-old sister left their house—and I use the term very loosely—at 4:30 in the morning to begin their journey. They outran elephants (apparently wild elephants aren’t quite as happy as the ones in “Dumbo” and kill people when they get the chance) but the boy dropped his water bottle—filled with water acquired by hand digging through sand until he reached the water table—in the process. But he didn’t want to be late, because it was his turn to raise the flag.
It really put things into perspective. Instead of complaining that I had lots of homework, I should have been thankful—I’m pretty sure I couldn’t outrun an elephant.