The Gift of Education

On June 2, 1989, my life changed forever. A brand new world was brought to my attention. I moved into the main land of the United States. I am Puerto Rican, meaning natural born American, but was raised on the island of Puerto Rico. Don't get me wrong, I have always been more fourtunate than most people with my condition. You see, I have a condition called Spina Bifida.

I guess it would make more sense if I explain myself. Normally, during the first month of a pregnancy, the two sides of the spine (or backbone) join together to cover the spinal cord, spinal nerves and meninges (the tissues covering the spinal cord). Spina bifida refers to any birth defect involving incomplete closure of the spine.

Myelomeningocele is the most common type of Spina Bifida. It is a neural tube defect in which the bones of the spine do not completely form, resulting in an incomplete spinal canal. This causes the spinal cord and meninges (the tissues covering the spinal cord) to stick out of the child's back.

Myelomeningocele may affect as many as 1 out of every 800 infants. I just happen to be one of those infants. As a cause of my having Spina Bifida, I was looked at as different. Even though I was just as smart as the other kids, just because I could not walk, I was seen as though I was not able to think clearly, or achieve the same thing as the kid sitting next to me.

As the days went by, we started to see the differences between our typical home in Puerto Rico, and our new home in New Jersey. The biggest thing, the change in languages. Don't get me wrong, I had been exposed to English my entire life, but not to the extent that I would be comfortable using it every day, all day long. You see, that is where my passion in education lies. If I can now teach and help those who need assistant with their education, who is to say that I haven't come a long way. Not too bad for a little girl that wasn't supposed to make it past her first 18 hours of life huh? No one should miss their chance at an education. I see education as the greatest gift that a parent can give their child.


I humbly feel now that I've had the rare fortune tonight to inadvertently bumped into such a beautiful Life story (yes, Life with capital L) , deftly narrated with such brave determination by a remarkable yet gifted educator, a young lady called Kareen B., who not only writes with such unique visceral aplomb about a
life-changing -albeit gut-wrenching- event but also she does that by wisely avoiding any predictable, distasteful emotional manipulation and, by the sole virtue of her sharp writing skills gloriously engulfing us into a such a true journey of courage or, perhaps paraphrasing one of the founding fathers of the Great American Theatre Dramatic cannon, guiding us headlong into a 'Long Day Journey Into Courage', because that's exactly what she does: --Gently guiding us into a path of exquisite yet unforgettable courage.
And now, my dear WyzAnt colleagues and friends, I would like to willingly ask for your permission in the sense of allowing me to express Kareen my gratitude in our beloved lengua Española:  
"...Quiero humildemente felicitarte de corazón Kareen, no solo por todo lo que ya has logrado sino por todo lo inmensamente bello que irás a lograr a través de los años por venir y que desde este preciso momento te espera a la vuelta de cada esquina de este largo, impredecible, las más de las veces complejo, duro e injusto pero -a no dudarlo- no menos fascinante camino de la Enseñanza y la Pedagogía. Recibe, pues, mi más genuina admiración y gratitud. Un gran abrazo Latinoamericano!.." 
Warmly, always
Juan B., Spanish Tutor, Bilingual Communicator / Theatre & Film Coach
Kew Gardens, NY


Kareen B.

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