At one point I realized a shocking fact ;I preferred The company of the prisoners clad in Orange to that of the teachers in the small teachers room.
Observing has been a hobby since my early childhood and helped me survive hard times.
Hard times here We go again!I reflected as the Russian Kozak hired to teach Mathematics ,Physics and computer science began yet another monologue on how horrible humanity specifically Russia,her two ex husbands and the prisoners were.
I couldn’t put ear plugs in since I didn’t have any and the Russian ‘s voice was loud and clear so I hid in the room where the Education officers were sitting eating their sandwiches and sometimes making colorful posters with large letters declaring Hope.
I needed hope like it’s nobody’s business ,I needed peace and quiet though my classes were peaceful .
I gave the prisoners what I had loved and what gave me the escape they had previously sought in drugs;travel.
We travelled through articles I had diligently photocopied struggling to keep order of the pages I have them Australia and Christopher Colombus and New York City and Edison and science and travel as the ultimate escape .
Learning English was a by product of my campaign which if I could would be titled”what a wonderful world ”
It WAS a wonderful world I argued though each break when I was forced to be incarcerated in the teachers room I counted the minutes left till I could be reunited with my prisoners .Every now and then a prison guard would show up to count how many prisoners I had .I lost a large bear like prisoner not before he had told me a sad story of a life of crime and the future generation ,his son,following in the similar path of a brutual dormitory school and a homeless existence where drugs were the only light .
The therapy helped the bear survive,he came to realize how his behavior was automatic and preprogrammed him for a life of crime .
The bear shared with me two pages of handwritten reflections, the language was good ,the intention unclear and yes,I could very much identify and yet I kept my distance ,never revealing any facts of a family or friends or anything except when I broke my finger on an accident involving my Labrador and a street cat and a leash.
I don’t know what had motivated me to take a huge cut in pay and work for peanuts teaching prisoners English but I knew from day one there was nothing I wouldn’t do to be there and watch their faces light up as they discover how able they were to learn and how their horizon can grow wider and their minds could perhaps do that wonderous switch called attitude and think of possibilities through my corny quotes and American groomed optimism and my Israeli stubbornness to keep going despite voices that demanded bills be paid and a less financially challenged life lived.
This is my destiny to do what I believed in and nothing less, and hopefully more.
I knew I was seen naive and stupid by the Yemenite teacher whose name ironically meant “gold”who wouldn’t miss a chance to say disparaging comments upon my personality and how naive and gullible I was not I did so very much want to believe in second chances ,maybe not for my violent ex husband who had grown tired of my willingness to put up with his temper and had found his match in a sadistic Italian immigrant who never did study too much yet knew how to push his buttons better at manipulation than most people ,but I did believe in giving these men in Orange an opportunity to fly over the prison gates through my travel tours to Australia ,the former prison colony ,and to America ,the land of opportunities where I had learned that I am limited in taking advantage of golden opportunities and was perhaps destined to break bread with the poor and disenfranchised of this world and not with the users and manipulators and game players .
Perhaps I lacked financial security and personal confidence of a himan bond I could trust but i could easily care for those ignored by most of society shoved aside and left unloved.
I used big fancy words but the deeds would prove me calm and caring where I used to be nervous and unfocused .
The prisoners were good to me and I was good for them.
The gates of prison that had once reminded me of a Nazi concentration camp had now reminded me of a hamster cage where pets would be kept fed and not easily released to the wild .