a mon professeur prefere

cher monsieur maurer, it will be a while before i can fully express everything i want to say, but u left an indelible impression on my life. u believed in me more than any other teacher. u made me feel like i was destined to do important things. nothing could have meant more to me at that age, in 6th grade. it opened up the world to me, made it accessible, in spite of the racism that would crop up once in a while both inside and outside our school. i never got those othering vibes from u.

i am glad i got to meet u once, as an adult, on a visit to brussels. what a moment that was – stepping into a classroom at parc schuman, the way it used to be, u coming out of the class, recognizing me and hugging me with immense emotion. u once told my mother that everything is possible for me. i lived by those words. when i left parc schuman for lycee emile jacqmain, i came to say goodbye. as i left the school, i can still see u leaning against the door frame, saying matter-of-factly: “ne change pas.”

after we reconnected on fb, i didn’t always agree with ur politics. the othering that i had never felt in person, came through indirectly in the posts, an orientalism that was hard for me to take. yet what u meant to me growing up is unequivocal. relationships can be complicated that way. it’s hard to believe u are no longer here. yet so much of what u taught us will remain close. it is a part of me.

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