Obstacles to Excellence
The concept of university education takes on a whole new meaning in the context of Danticat’s “Children of the Sea.” While the boyfriend continues on towards America, he briefly mentions university exams and how they consumed his time. While sailing on a boat, he still considers the possible education he left behind. The girlfriend finds the university exams just as important, writing, “tonight, they read the list of names of people who passed the university exams. you passed” (24). This letter also contained the account of the girlfriend’s father saving her life, making the news of the university exam pale by comparison. The message of Danticat is certainly not against education, but helping people to realize that not everyone is so lucky as to make that pursuit their first priority. While such a chaotic atmosphere loudly calls for Kolvenbach’s idea of, “academic excellence- excellence needed in order to solve complex social problems,” (30) Danticat shows that those very bright individuals are being robbed of that opportunity by the need to survive.
Although “Children of the Sea” shows an extreme separation from education, it makes a person wonder how many people are missing out on and education right in Baltimore. After working with St. Ignatius students, I’ve begun to wonder what these young men will do when looking for higher education. Will the opportunity be there for them? Is St. Ignatius their stepping stone to a free college education? I only hope that their excellence is permitted to shine at the highest level in just a few years.