One day, the phone rang and she received her first assignment as a new volunteer. On the other end of the line was the classroom teacher of a young boy who had been hospitalized and needed tutoring during his stay in the hospital. The volunteer teacher took down the name of the boy and his hospital room number and was told by his classroom teacher that this boy had been studying nouns and adverbs in his class before he was hospitalized.
It was not until the visiting teacher got just outside the boy's hospital room that she realized he was a patient in the hospital's burn unit. She was prepared to teach English grammar, but she was not prepared to witness the horrible look and smell of badly burned human flesh. She was not prepared to see a young boy in great pain either. Everything around her made her want to hold her nose, to turn around and to leave faster than she came.
But something inside her kept her from walking away, so she clumsily stammered over to his bedside and said simply: "I'm the hospital teacher. Your schoolteacher asked me to help you with your nouns and adverbs," and she began to teach.
The next morning when she came to work with the boy, a nurse from the burn unit rushed up to her and asked her, "What did you do to that boy?"
The teacher began to apologize profusely, but before she could finish, the nurse interrupted her. "You don't understand. We've been really worried about him and his condition has been deteriorating over the past few days, because he had completely given up hope. But ever since you were here with him yesterday, his whole attitude has changed and he's fighting back and responding to treatment. It's as though he decided to live! What did you do?"
When the nurse later questioned the little boy, he said, "I figured I was doomed—that I was gonna die—until I saw that teacher." And as a tear began to run down his little face, he finished: "But when I saw that teacher, I realized that they wouldn't send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy...would they?"
Why everyone has a message of hope inside