They offered me a teaching position in a small Ukrainian mining town. It felt like a huge chance to start over. During my first day on the job, I became an instant celebrity. Not only was I American I was black. All the kids were staring with their mouths open. Say their names poster. One seventh grader ran up to me and gave me a Star Wars pencil. His name was Pasha, and we immediately became friends. He followed me everywhere. He showed an amazing amount of empathy for a thirteen year old. He’d stay after class and ask me questions. Not only about school, but also about how I was doing. Being a black male in Ukraine could be difficult. People would stare, or laugh, or point. During my training some kids followed me on bikes, screaming the ‘N’ word.
Say their names poster
But I’m a tough New Yorker, so I could handle it. But whenever I tried to discuss it with the administration, it seemed like people were doubting my experience. And that weighed heaviest on me. It felt like I had nowhere to turn. Say their names poster. But occasionally I’d share my experiences on Instagram Stories, and Pasha would stay after class to ask me about them. There was one time I was approached by two men on the street. They were hurling racial slurs at me. They followed me all the way home. I was so shaken that I was ready to quit. I even emailed Peace Corps.