#27 "Taking Green Eggs and Ham For Granted"
“People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for.” Maybe that was the line Emily Moberly had just read from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird when one of her high school students in Honduras poked fun at her, asking her why she would be reading when she doesn’t have to read. Emily remembers being shocked, and she instantly began explaining to her students the amazing story of Jem and Scout and Atticus. She exclaimed, “To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book! What is your favorite book?”
The students did not have a response to their teacher’s question. At that moment, Emily realized that her twenty-three juniors and seniors had only ever read textbooks. They had never become best friends with a fictional character or been tucked in with a bedtime story. They had not learned about green eggs and ham, or what happens when you give a mouse a cookie or about the places they will go!
At age twenty-three, Emily went home that Christmas break and returned with a suitcase full of books. That suitcase became the school’s library. As time passed, she started receiving messages from the students who read them. “I have a baby now, and I read to him every night!” “Became a doctor today! Thank you for the books that inspired me!”
Eventually the books at that library turned into the Traveling Stories nonprofit (https://travelingstories.org/). Emily’s one suitcase turned into nine years of outsmarting poverty by building eight libraries around the world, helping two thousand kids in San Diego and six thousand kids all through the world. All this in less than 10 years. Can you imagine the next 10?
So, what can we learn from Emily? Let’s go back to that To Kill a Mockingbird quote. “People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for.” I am sure this is true about human nature. I don’t know what Emily was looking for or listening for that day in Honduras, but I know she saw and heard students who did not have the same opportunity as she did. The most important takeaway is what she did - she packed a bag for them instead of for her.
Let’s all open our eyes and ears a little bit more than usual today and look and listen for the needs around us. And most importantly, let’s never take green eggs and ham for granted again.