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Junot Diaz

Posted: 2011-10-19

This is from New York Times Magazine feature on educational experiences that changed a life. Most people wrote about significant teachers. Michelle Rhee wrote about herself. Go to the url and read George Saunders' extraordinary offering.

I remember her as a small woman, but what do I know? I was small myself. Sheâs in none of the official photographs I have from my elementary-school days, but in my memory, my first librarian is a gentlewhitewoman [sic] who wore glasses and was exceedingly kind to this new immigrant. I do not remember her voice, but I do remember that every time I saw her, she called me to her desk and showed me with an almost conspiratorial glee a book she had picked out for me, a book I always read and often loved.



Every now and then you get lucky in your education and you make a teacher-friend; Mrs. Crowell was my first. By second grade she was allowing me to take out more books than the prescribed limit. By third grade I was granted admission to her librarian's office. My love of books was born of hers. As a newcomer with almost no knowledge of the country in which Iâd found myself, I was desperate to understand where the hell I was, who I was. I sought those answers in books. It was in Mrs. Crowell's library that I found my first harbor, my first truly safe place in the United States. I still feel a happy pulse every time I see a library. I'm with Borges in imagining Paradise as "a kind of library." Where instead of angels there will be a corps of excellent librarians.

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