Legacy

POSTED IN contemporary poetry, essays July 18, 2020

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Legacy

“THERE ARE NO UNATTAINABLE HEIGHTS, THERE ARE ONLY TOO SHORT WINGS”

This is the only thing left of me there, in Riihimäki, at my first and most beloved workplace, RIIHIMÄEN AIKUISLUKIO MAAHANMUUTTAJIEN PERUSKOULU ( Riihimäen aikuislukio – Riihimäen kaupunki ): A QUOTE.

When I first started to work there, in April 2003, I had the honor and the privilege to create a school for the immigrants in need to learn Finnish, to integrate in society.
Together with the headmaster and a Finnish language teacher I’ve started a journey which for me would become the very definition of myself.
I’ve met people, I’ve listened to their life stories and I promised them that by the end of two years of school their life in Finland will have a great shape, a visible, fulfilled, good one.
I always kept my promise, I always delivered 😍.
It wasn’t easy but it was worth the effort.
I’ve created the school website in many languages  for the whole world to know about its wonders and, in every language, the story of my school started with this quote:
“There are no unattainable heights, there are only too short wings”

After I no longer worked there, behind me remained nothing. All signs that I ever existed in the life of that school were deleted by diligent fingers.
The only thing that remained untouched is this quote.
Perhaps nobody knew that I WROTE IT THERE!
It doesn’t belong to me, but I found it to be the essence of a school, every school.
So, in 2003 I chose it to be our symbol because we, the immigrants becoming Finnish citizens,  through a looong process of integration, WE KNOW HOW TO FLY HIGH.

It wasn’t easy to loose everything I’ve ever loved in a job, things that defined ME, who I was, and, for a long time this quote being THERE, on the school website,  kept me going on.

Yet, when an anniversary book was published I cried.

The book that I prepared for the TEN YEARS ANNIVERSARY of my school, anniversary that didn’t happen.
The book that no one else would help me create and publish.
No one else but me would get in touch with the first graduates, invite them, collect their memories…

So, being published at the 15th anniversary which I didn’t “survive” in working there, my invite got lost.
When that book appeared online and I saw that my name, my work there, my very existence wasn’t even worth mentioning, I cried.

I thought that everything I held dear about that place of work was suddenly tainted…
I kept the memories of my students, of one special colleague and former teacher of mine, of those happy days when my phone would be on duty nights and days, weekends, holidays, those Christmas parties or Spring flings when we’d sing, dance, eat together…
I said to myself:
“IN THE END, WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE, THE IMPORTANT THING OF ALL IS THE RESULT OF MY JOB WELL DONE AND MY SATISFACTION”.

So, thank you all, for allowing me for eleven years to be part of something great.

A true teacher, like a doctor, is a healer. They shouldn’t be tied down to one place unless in the long run they’re in for the good money, or fame, or a good retirement.
But if  they’re in for the great deeds, for the fundamental work of teaching, helping, truly helping others, then a true teacher should be a pilgrim, traveling from place to place in search for new students in need, new places to be built, new Christmases to be celebrated.

So, here I am, happy to start all over yet again, and again, and again, making new memories, helping other immigrants to build a life in Finland :)!

Indeed, “there are no unattainable heights, there are only too short wings”. This is MY LEGACY.
I take my QUOTE with me everywhere I go, knowing deep in my heart that there is my truth in it.

 

Maria Magdalena Biela

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