In a special issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine this past weekend, Junot Diaz, among others, shared memories of a teacher that changed his life:
I remember her as a small woman, but what do I know? I was small myself. She’s in none of the official photographs I have from my elementary-school days, but in my memory, my first librarian is a gentlewhitewoman who wore glasses and was exceedingly kind to this new immigrant. I do not remember her voice, but I do remember that every time I saw her, she called me to her desk and showed me with an almost conspiratorial glee a book she had picked out for me, a book I always read and often loved.
Every now and then you get lucky in your education and you make a teacher-friend; Mrs. Crowell was my first. By second grade she was allowing me to take out more books than the prescribed limit. By third grade I was granted admission to her librarian’s office. My love of books was born of hers. As a newcomer with almost no knowledge of the country in which I’d found myself, I was desperate to understand where the hell I was, who I was. I sought those answers in books. It was in Mrs. Crowell’s library that I found my first harbor, my first truly safe place in the United States. I still feel a happy pulse every time I see a library. I’m with Borges in imagining Paradise as “a kind of library.” Where instead of angels there will be a corps of excellent librarians.
(via NYT, photo credit Luis Blackaller)