A few short weeks ago, Claire’s beloved dance teacher of 3 years moved back to the States. Claire, along with about 100 other teeny tiny dancers, was heart-broken. She’s really quite serious about ballet, and when she heard the news about Miss Jillian leaving, she dejectedly asked me, “How can I be a dancer without a teacher?” She had a good point. Before Miss Jillian got here and ambitiously started an entire dance program on our base, there was NOTHING. Seriously, NOTHING. It’s not easy to come by an English-speakng, professional dance instructor around here. She remembers when there was no dancing on Atsugi Base, and she was more than a little bit worried that her dancing days were done.
So I told her to do something about it. “I’m only 7!” she protested. “So what?” I argued. “Sweet, pretty 7 year-olds can sometimes make more difference than the grown-ups, sweetie.” And that’s when we rocked out to this awesome video for a few minutes and had an impromptu Bible application lesson for the day… After this, she looked like she might be into this, but what could SHE do?
WELL…..that week, Claire’s writing lesson (she’s homeschooled, in case you haven’t caught that from previous blogs) happened to be on persuasive writing. She was to learn how to write a persuasive “hypothetical” letter. So I taught her the basics of persuasive writing (OREO- Opinion, Reasons, Explanation, Opinion-restated). And she crafted a beautifully handwritten front-and-back letter to the “top guys” on base who would (or wouldn’t) bother to work on finding these kids a new dance instructor. Her letter was pitch perfect, just the right emotion to her plea, and very professional, for a 7 year-old. 🙂 A few days later, we hand-delivered these letters to those two gentlemen to whom they were addressed. I coached her to look them in the eye, introduce herself, stick out her hand to shake theirs, and then tell them that she wrote this letter just for them. She did it. One of them read it right there on the spot, shook her hand again, and promised her that he’d do his very best to oblige her. She beamed from ear to ear all the way home.
Then the other day, on the huge, flashing marquis by the movie theater on base, there shouted: “Dance Instructor Wanted. Please call….” Claire saw it, and eyes-on-fire-with-excitement asked, “DID I DO THAT??? IS THAT BECAUSE OF MY LETTER?” Now maybe (a little maybe, based on my past experience with how things go on base) they would have done that with or without her little letter, but do you even have to guess how I answered her?
“Oh yes, sweet girl, that was your letter.”
And through her transparent baby blues, I saw something switch on inside her: she suddenly believed that little-old-her can make a real difference in this world.