How We Are Equal
At school we were told that all kinds of work is important and that nobody is more or less important because of the nature of their job. As young adults we were taught to know better. As adults we work hard to put distance between us and people with those ‘other kinds of jobs’.
At NJ’s we tell kids that all kinds of work is important. We teach them that everyone deserves to keep their dignity, that respect is not something to ration out to people based on their office at school or in life.
As adults at NJ’s we believe this and we set aside time and energy to make it fact. We all have work that is important. We all have our own dignity. We support each other in our various jobs because we are a team.
There are people at NJ’s whose job it is to clean the school and to manage the daily maintenance of its facilities. But we strictly enforce the fact that it is not their job to clean up after anybody else. Rb and Mo clean the floors and the bathrooms and the windows and the dishes. But the teachers and students are responsible for all of their own trash, their paint spills, their paper scraps, for dusting, for putting things back in place, for food stains and anything that is outside the pale of regular maintenance.
Rb and Mo attend training and workshops with everybody, they participate in collaborative planning sessions, take an interest in whatever botany or zoology is being taught in various classes, and act as local vernacular specialists.
When nobody else can tell us what earthworms are called in Punjabi, Rb is our girl. When Year 1 caught a toad that refused to eat anything Mo rode to a butcher shop nearby to trap some flies in a jar. Then he helped the children lower the flies into the toad’s aquarium.
Before Dilawar took a new job as a driver, he used to bring his guitar to school for jam sessions with Z after the kids left. He stored it in his supply corner with the brooms and vacuum. The reason I like this picture is because it captures what is common between us all.
This is what makes us equal: that apart from work, we love, and we live, and we dream.