Sunday, May 17, 2009

CHAPTER 5 ‘Ricardo’ emerges. Teaching offers a way back to France

Back at Erskine College the next Fall, his Senior Year, Ricardo auditioned for several music groups and more plays and musicals. Singing brought an international tour with the Choraleers and brought Best Actor honors for roles that Fall and Spring. The Choraleers took him to back to Europe, tantalizingly close to France, to sing in Scotland and England.


I’ll just say that no singing moment has been more intense than singing for the congregation of our Mother church, St. Andrews of Erskine in Scotland. They were a small and very poor congregation but still wanted to show us hospitality. Some of the guys were complaining about the quality and quantity of the food when our Director explained that they had spent money their church and their families couldn’t afford to make us feel welcome and loved. Each bite after that was difficult as shame and gratitude warred for dominance.


 The concert that night was intense. We had all been humbled by the revelation of extreme sacrificial giving. When we sang “Were You There?” a cappella we sang with eyes opened to sacrifice and unconditional love. We FELT the songwriter’s grief and awe at what Christ had done and sang it out. When we finished there was only silence and tears. Every heart in the room had shared a moment of oneness that only the Holy Spirit can create.

On Mother's day in May of 1993 the entire family showed up for graduation. We seniors sang “Be Still and Know That I Am God.”  I remember being very calm and only nervous about them calling my name. Why do people generally only clap for their own child at a ceremony that celebrates the collective achievements of them and their peers? I clap for every student every time.


Always being last (W-Walker) I expected the applauders to tire halfway through the list of names. By M only family members were applauding. Finally my name was called. Ricardo LeVon Walker, French and Spanish, summa cum laude.


My eyes welled with tears, again, when all my classmates and the rest of the entire student body expressed by their shouts and applause their pride in and fondness for me. Earlier I had received the American Legion Medal for scholarship and leadership. I had never held an office or led any organization officially but I had come to Erskine and left it with a strong faith and lived it among my fellow students. I had led without leading, really without knowing it. So I was unprepared for and overwhelmed by such a display of support.

Goodbyes were again difficult. We were more mature and sure we could manage long distance. Not as hard as France but most of us didn’t even live in the same state. That same day I packed my bags into my parents’ car and headed back to Lancaster with no idea what I would do with the rest of my life. 

I spent the next year at the Chicken Plant rigorously cataloguing the effects of chicken grease and minimum wage on the college graduate ego.

My research was concluded when I received a call from the Horry County School District in the Summer of 1994.


I would begin as a Spanish teacher at Conway High School in the Fall of 1994 but I had a bigger plan.  Teacher Exchange.

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