Friday, February 1, 2013

Year 3: Week 19 - The Accent

Everyone puts up guards to protect themselves from being hurt by others. Some people don't talk about things they are passionate about while others make jokes as opposed to revealing their true feelings.

Bonnie's guard was her accent. Born and raised in Ireland, Bonnie consciously spoke with an American accent so that she could fit in better and not have to deal with the inevitable barrage of questions about her heritage.

I met Bonnie when I was student teaching. She was a junior French horn player. Bonnie was friendly, positive and very sharp. She was the kind of girl that you could tell was always thinking and being conscientious about what she said and did.

I got to know Bonnie on the marching band field. In conversations during breaks she revealed her background to me and the choice she made bout her accent. I told her that I thought that the variety of accents in our culture were a great thing and that she shouldn't feel like she had to hide her accent. In response she looked straight into my eyes, with a soft smile, paused for a second, and then walked away.

One of the early events in the marching band season was a parents showcase. Parents were invited to come and their children taught them how to march in a block and a couple basic commands. This was a great event that helped students learn by teaching and it helped parents to really understand what goes into being in marching band.

As the students found their parents and placed them in the marching band block I saw Bonnie standing alone holding her mellophone. I walked over and asked her how she was doing. She explained why her parents couldn't be at this event. Bonnie told me that it wasn't a big deal but as she stood watching all of the other students with their parents I could tell  how she really felt.

So I told her, "Look, I'll be your parent, you can teach me how to march and hold the instrument." For once Bonnie was at a loss of words, and then she jumped in teaching me everything I needed to know to be in a marching band. Of course, Bonnie, knew that I could do all of this stuff but we played our parts and we had a great time.

As the event was coming to a close, her American accent began to melt away and her Irish accent emerged. Along with her accent, she conversed in a more relaxed fashion. Without her guard, the best of Bonnie shown brighter.

In later conversations, her Irish accent would slip out in the quiet moments when there wasn't a lot of people around.

Putting up your guard is an instinct that most of us do that in general isn't a bad thing. Very few people are so comfortable with who they are that they can truly be themselves in all situations. The protection our guard makes us feels safe but often hides the best parts of who we are from people we want to connect with.

You never know how your actions, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant helps the people around you be themselves. If you let down your own guard, and are truly present for someone you might just hear someone's true voice.

No comments:

Post a Comment