It was a few weeks ago, my phone rings. I am working from home, writing something unimportant. Yet, I am hesitant to interrupt my concentration. No matter how insignificant my work assignment is, at that precise moment, it’s the center of my universe. While I’m toying whether I should pick up or call back later, my hand lifts the phone. Or maybe it’s not my hand. Maybe it’s instinct, a force, my conscience. Something bigger than me, that knows this phone call is about to rock my world. (more…)
One day this spring, after taking the kids out to dinner, I checked my Facebook feed before I set out to drive home. I saw the news that my high school French teacher, Mrs. Warren, had passed away.
I began to drive home, and I felt such an emptiness, and I began to cry. I hadn’t seen Mrs. Warren since I graduated high school in 1994. That was 21 years ago. But, the impact she made to my life was so grand that I didn’t realize that there was a part of her that was always with me.
Mrs. Warren was an amazing French teacher. However, her greatest impact was not what she taught us about French, but what she taught us about life. For me, she was a teacher who peeked through hypothetical doors with her students, and said, “Look what is possible!”, and then said, “Go do it!” She listened to us, and she knew that we all had different wants and needs.
I remember that Mrs. Warren had a husband and two sons who she loved and spoke about very much and who were very into camping. So ironic because she, herself, belonged walking the streets and museums of Paris.
Every year she arranged to lead a bunch of school kids to France after school let out. She treated us all like her own. In the 1990s we had lectures at every step of the way: about the value of the Franc at that time compared to the dollar, our safety and what not to do and what to do in the French culture. She went over everything and then set us free to make our own decisions.
She led us up to the top of the Eiffel Tower and as much as she treasured the view, she seemed to be more excited about us seeing it for the first time.
Before this trip, I had only been on an airplane once to go to Florida and my parents had never been out of the country at that time. Mrs. Warren extended our boundaries. She taught her students that there was life outside of Brick, New Jersey, USA and how fun and interesting it was to explore the world!
The next year, after having exhausted my summer job savings on the trip to France, Mrs. Warren told her class about a scholarship competition from our town’s Board of Education for a summer foreign exchange. Since I had already been to France, I chose Japan because I yearned to see more of the world, and it was the country I knew the least about on the list. Everyone else who was applying chose a country which coincided with a language that they were learning at school. I realized that I had to come up with a different strategy for my essay and interview because I didn’t know any Japanese.
I wrote down all the stereotypes of Japan that I could think of and explained that I needed to go to Japan to get answers to questions such as, “Were the Japanese really obsessed with American baseball?” and, “Did the women walk around in kimonos everyday?”
However, although it was a very formidable obstacle, winning over the Board of Education, wasn’t the toughest thing in my way to get to Japan. After telling my parents about the scholarship for the foreign exchange, they said that I wasn’t allowed to apply.
As I mentioned before, my parents had never traveled internationally at that time, and I had extended them beyond their comfort zone when I went to France. But Mrs. Warren had been with me for that trip, and she had reassured them at the time, so that had been ok. This was different. There was no way they were going to allow their 17-year old daughter to go to another country on her own when she didn’t know the language. So, that was that.
Well, not really. I wrote and submitted the essay anyway. Not quite Malala standing up to the Taliban for her right to an education, but for me, it was rebellious.
My mom actually came into my room the night I was writing the essay and asked what I was doing. I didn’t lie. I told her the truth. I assured her that I probably wouldn’t win anyway and writing the essay was good experience for me. She looked at me, gasped in disbelief, and then since it was so late and she was tired and going up to bed, she said, “Ok, just don’t tell your father.” So, I didn’t tell him.
I remember the day I was in my AP Biology class and Mrs. Warren was standing outside the door. I had no idea why she was there. I waved to her and she kind of hid. I thought it was strange. It turned out she was trying to surprise me, and when I got out of class, she handed me a folder from the nonprofit foreign exchange organization, Youth for Understanding, and beamed as she gave me the news…
I couldn’t believe it!! I had won the scholarship, and I was going to Japan!! But, OH, NOOO!!!! Mrs. Warren didn’t know that my dad forbade me to apply. I had to tell her. So, I did.
My mom worked at the time as a teller at a bank, and without my knowing, Mrs. Warren went down to the bank and spoke with her. What teacher goes through the trouble and gets involved like that? Linda Warren did.
Mrs. Warren’s support justified to me that dreams were possible. That anything was possible! Even getting past my strict father and his sometimes totalitarian rule. (He doesn’t read my blog, so I can be all high school dramatic like that here.) It took a lot of convincing, but I did finally get permission to go to Japan for the summer. And, it definitely was one of the best experiences in my life.
Since Mrs. Warren encouraged me to travel internationally as a student, I have now visited sixteen countries. But perhaps some of the best things that have come out of my love of all things international are my English husband who also loves to travel, and the amazing opportunities the women at World Moms Blog and I have created together. We’ve spoken on a panel at the World Bank in support of the universal education for all children; accepted invitations to the White House and the United Nations; been on various delegations around the world to view health and education programs, and I still feel like we’re just getting started!
I can’t help but think that World Moms Blog may not have been, if I didn’t have Mrs. Warren’s support and invitation to the world when I needed her most.
Au revoir and thank you, Mrs. Warren. I am so grateful for your life. You are an inspiration. You are very missed, and I promise, I know now that everything IS possible. Your impact exceeds the number of the many students who had the opportunity to have you as a teacher.
Your life lessons proved much more valuable than what we thought we were getting when we signed up for your French class in high school. You were much more than a French teacher to me. Thank you for sharing your life with your students and inspiring us.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by founder, Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA, who is greatly missing her French teacher today as she heads to a memorial mass for Linda Warren.
Photo from the Brick Memorial High School Class of ’94 Yearbook.
Daria and her music speak to our mission, here, at World Moms Blog, and she has also supported our #Moms4MDGs campaign. We recently invited her friend, Lisa from The Squishable Baby, to give us the full scoop on Daria’s World Music!
Have you ever been in the car and a song comes on the radio that brings a huge smile to your face? No matter what mood you are in – good, bad or indifferent – you feel totally at peace and happy. And if you could just bottle up that song and play it over and over, you would? Have you met someone who must have a voice from Heaven? Whose beautiful voice advocates peace, tolerance and love. Someone whose voice celebrates the human experience in all its differences?
I am lucky enough to know someone like that. Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou makes children happy through her music that advocates peace, love, and multiculturalism. As a homeschooling family where art and music are at the core of our curriculum, it’s easy to see how Daria makes such an important contribution to this world. You go on her website where there are a myriad of resources for you to teach, enjoy and spend quality time with your children. I can’t think of anything better than someone whose very foundation and message is love. And she does it in a way to educate about others and celebrates everyone’s differences.
We listen to Daria’s CDs in the car all the time. The kids know the songs by heart. They are written in different languages and are about different topics but all of them have the same undertone; to love one another and to celebrate the differences (whether good or bad) that exist in each one of us. This is the message all children should be receiving in a world that screams intolerance.
It’s time to start raising a generation of children that can respect and love the differences in others; no matter the customs, religions, colors, heights, weights, etc. These are the messages in Daria’s songs. Daria has become a part of our lives and our homeschool in a big way. We use her website a lot.
When I am teaching about a subject or an area of the world, we listen to music from that area. We look at art, and then we see what Daria has in store. Daria always has fun crafts, coloring pages and special songs available on her website. It’s there and free for everyone. The items on Daria’s website are so fun and enriching for children … and adults. I learn just as much from Daria as the kids do. The most important thing is that we do everything together. It‘s a way of bringing our family together.
Here are examples of crafts we made from Daria’s website. The kids had fun making and playing a Cajon and a Didgeridoo (instructions given on Daria’s Website) from Peru and Australia, respectively. The instructions were clear and also allowed for some innovation and creativity! Check out all the fun we had making and playing the instruments.
You can see the full review I wrote about Daria here.
Daria empowers children. She makes them want to be better for the world. No other music artist I know will provide children with such fantastic family-friendly upbeat music that they can dance to; and an overreaching positive message of hope and peace, while promoting and providing a well-structured, well-rounded multicultural education in the musical arts unmatched by anything else. I am so proud of Daria and everything that she has done to bring different cultures to children in all parts of the world. I am honored that she calls me a friend. — Lisa
For the last 20 years, Daria has traveled the globe sharing her music of hope, love, multiculturalism and tolerance. In the United States she has won several national awards; including, The National Association for Parenting Publications Award (NAPPA), a Parent’s Choice Award, and a Children’s Web Music Award. Her songs have been used in educational curriculum the world over, including Australia (respecting others), South Africa (teaching on tolerance) and the United States (a special song written to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.).
You can visit Daria on the web: Facebook Twitter Website Pinterest