A while back, I wrote about one of my students, Omari, who is in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound. A big thank-you to readers who have joined me in praying for him and his family, as well as assisting them financially by contributing to Omari’s recovery fund.
When I visited Omari today, we were finally able to talk about how he’s feeling about the incident itself, as well as where he plans to go from here. One of my worries had been that he’d be traumatized and never want to return nor associate himself with the Chicago South Side ever again, though that would be understandable, considering his close brush with death (this 17-year-old boy was shot in the face). I made it a point to pray specifically that God would somehow use this whole fiasco to grow this young man in very profound ways.
Well, today, Omari told me that he aspires to be an undercover detective in Chicago, specializing in gang injunction and indictment. I almost cried right in front of him.
When I pressed him further for a back-up plan, he said he’d want to start an organization that helps at-risk youths graduate from high school. God knows how I managed to keep it together at that point. I couldn’t be more proud.
Omari is one of only two students with whom I have shared about my history with clinical depression, and how that has completely changed me and redirected my life trajectory. This 17-year-old African-American boy and this strange Chinese lady now have something in common: God is redeeming and transforming us through the darkest moments of our lives.
Today, I also made sure to tell him about how I knew he was different from many of my other students, in that he recognized me as a fellow human being (as opposed to a slave-driver or a grading machine) right from the beginning. And that’s a huge part of why we’re able to have a meaningful relationship as teacher and student.
At that, he reminded me, “It all started with tea.” I teared up at this point, recalling how he was that one student who thought to ask about the weird Chinese tea I drink every morning, and to actually ask to sample a cup. There’s now a giant bag of said tea sitting next to his hospital bed.