"Like prisons," I've heard some schools described by fellow volunteers. And sometimes, when I'm sitting in the back of a second grade with blank walls and even blanker stares, it can feel that way. A disciplinary stick laid across the teacher's desk, being told upon entering the classroom, "these kids are donkies, that one's a lunatic and that one is dumb," five kids squeezed together on a bench, these are constants. My little vision of the way things should be, all that time I've spent in schools and on thinking about learning, starts to feel a little irrelevant in a cement room with nothing but a chalkboard. I can stop seeing potential in children, and sort of zone out, like many of them do, on the wall, on the copied notebook, the head in front of me. It would be easy to keep identifying the problems here, to jump onto that endless but easy track of crying poverty, no resources, throwing blame in whatever direction falls fastest. But there's time after class, and I pull out a box of permenant markers that I permenantly borrowed from the office, and I help the teacher draw an alphabet on the wall. And tomorrow, we'll try reading a picture book to the kids. I tell myself that I'm not here to coerce any kind of change, just to share a little experience, small small, and that way we'll see what comes.