Charley’s World Episode Twenty-One

Charley couldn’t believe the change in Sam. As he was mentioning the change to Nellie, she commented, “I’m glad he’s taking my advice.” Charley asked her what she had said to him.

“I told Sam that the best preparation for the GED was to take what you are learning and teach someone else.” Charley knew how important this was for him, but he hadn’t incorporated that concept into the Learning Center. Again, he learned from Nellie.

Throughout the day, Sam helped Gloria and she made remarkable improvement. They really seemed to connect. Charley began to wonder if Sam saw Gloria as the mother he never had.

When the day was done, Gloria asked Sam if she could fix him supper. He readily agreed. Over supper Gloria shared her story with Sam and he listened with genuine interest. For Sam, this was a different life story than he ever imagined and one that inspired him.

The end of the evening was awkward. Gloria realized that Sam had no car so she volunteered to take him home. This was when Sam decided to share his own story. Gloria was in tears as he told it.

“You’re not going anywhere. I have a room upstairs that has been vacant for too long. You are staying here tonight and as long as you need a place to stay.” Sam agreed.

It was the first real night’s sleep Sam had gotten in a very long time. There was also a shower and bathroom next to his room. He hadn’t taken a shower in a long time either. As he entered the bathroom, he found a set of clothes with a note: “These r 4 u.” For the first time he ever remembered, Sam was really moved by kindness.

When Charley entered the kitchen, he hugged Gloria and thanked her for everything she had done for him. Then he handed her a piece of paper.

“What is this?” Gloria asked.

“Just read it,” Sam replied.

Gloria began to read and she realized that what she was reading was her story written by Sam. Her reading was stronger and more confident than ever. When she struggled with a word, Sam helped her.

What Sam had done was to put real meaning to the words that Gloria was reading. This helped advance her reading skills.

As Gloria was reading that day at the Learning Center, Charley noticed a tremendous change in Gloria’s reading ability. When he asked her what had happened, Charley was amazed.

Later that day, Charley had an insight that would become one of the defining features of his Learning Center going forward.

* * *

“Sharing knowledge is the most fundamental act of friendship. Because it is a way you can give something without losing something.” – Richard Stallman (open source software activist)