by Blane, ’15
Every time I look back on my high school years, I always find something moving about my experience that I took for-granted at the time. One of these things is the warm relationship my classmates and I had with the janitors at our school. Many of them were more than familiar faces to us. Whenever we saw them, we acknowledged them by name, and even took a few moments to exchange jokes or stories. During one of our “morning meetings”, a daily assembly before school, I still remember the moment we gave our head janitors a cake to show our appreciation.
Since I have been on Stanford’s campus, vastly larger than my high school’s, I have gotten the sense that janitors are anonymous to most of the Stanford community. With the daily rush to classes, meetings, and practices, it seems to difficult for many to take a quick moment to acknowledge them.
Last year, I decided to join Habla because I wanted to find a better way to reciprocate all of the hard work they do and hopefully build the same level of connection that I had with the janitors in high-school. In class, I am astounded at how much energy they put into learning English, especially since they are squeezing an ESL class in the middle of a long shift. When classes are over, I enjoy mingling with the janitors, who always seem relaxed and sociable despite their grueling schedules.
If you want to do something that can truly make an impact on someone else, then check out Habla. We meet 12-1pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10-11pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. If you don’t have time to give up two hours of your week, then I only ask you one favor. For every janitor you pass by that has become a familiar face to you: Say hello, ask how they’re doing, and get their name. I promise you those three things can make a world of a difference.
Blane is a Sophomore who is part of Habla, a student organization whose mission is to empower facilities workers on campus through English-language literacy and conversational skills. In classes lead by an ESL instructor from the Palo Alto Adult School, workers receive one-on-one tutoring from Stanford students. Through these classes, Habla seeks to connect the student and the janitorial communities at Stanford.