Lost and Found in East Boston

Posted 7 April 2014 12:00 AM by Kayla Lee, Target Arts Teaching Artist

Visiting Patrick J. Kennedy Elementary School in East Boston, I expected a pretty straight-forward meeting with the Citi Performing Art Center’s Education department and school staff. What I got was an unexpected adventure and a warm welcome from the East Boston community in a very unusual way.


When I was asked to join the Target Teaching Artist Program this spring, I embraced this opportunity to bring together my experiences in the arts, multicultural awareness and education. I was excited about working with Ms. Decerbo’s third grade class at P.J. Kennedy Elementary School. I had already heard that they were a great class, and I was eager to work with them. I hoped to build upon their previous experiences from last year working with a Target Teaching artist who was poet. I knew this year, I wanted to built upon their previous training as artists as well as facilitate a creative and fun experience for the school and the East Boston community.

The collaborative process began with a meeting at school with the music teacher, classroom teacher, school administrator, and staff member from the Citi PAC education department, We met together to craft an artistic experience which would be meaningful to the third grade class I would work with each work. What emerged from the conversation was the topic of immigration. It is not only a topic that the students study but a genuine reality, which touches and shapes their lives and our lives. From the meeting, another theme emerged. It was the idea that immigration not only brought together people but that it also introduced diverse perspectives as well as new ideas and artistic possibilities. The meeting went so well, I could have skipped out of the doors of P.J. Kennedy Elementary School.

The Trouble Begins:

After the meeting, I decided to visit a store right next door. As I shuffled through my purse to pay for about a minute, a wave of panic overcame me as I realized I was missing my wallet! Trying to remain calm, I simply told myself to retrace your steps- P.J. Kennedy school and then my path to school...P.J. Kennedy school and then the path to school...P.J. Kennedy school and then the path to school!!! I retraced my steps again and again with no luck. Searched in the school with no avail. I left with empathetic wishes from the school staff that I would find it. I even visited the Boston Fire Department across the street hoping for the slim chance that someone had turned it in. No luck, no wallet. I returned home frazzled and upset-- at myself. An hour later, I got a call from my bank. Why is my bank calling me? Not good, not good...Had someone taken my cards and gone on a shopping spree? (It would have been hard to do on a student’s budget. Nonetheless was it attempted?) Instead on the other end of the line, a friendly voice rang out a sweet melody--my wallet had been found! A man walking on Saratoga Street found the wallet and turned it in at the East Boston Police Station. Someone at the station shuffled through my wallet and found a bank card and then called my bank. Then the bank called me to tell me that the wallet was found and that I needed to contact the East Boston Police Station. When I arrived at the police station, they gave me the wallet and a police report. Everything was intact from the cards to the two little pennies. I could not say thank you enough to them for taking the time to call my bank. Later than evening, I read the police report again. I called the number left by the person who turned in the wallet. Once again a melodic voice rang out on the phone. It was the sound of kindness and consideration. In a rich accented voice, the gentleman, who I will call Mr. Samaritan, shared his story of how he discovered my wallet lying on the sidewalk as he was walking. I thanked him again and again for his graciousness. Before hanging up, Mr. Samaritan and I had a conversation about family, art, immigration and education.

The Unexpected:

The adventitious occurrence provided me with more than I could have expected as a result of joining the Target Teaching Artist Program. Not only did I have the excitement of working with a class at P.J. Kennedy Elementary School, but I felt welcomed and a sense of gratitude to people I had never met before that day. Although I lost my wallet (and almost my mind), but I discovered something very important-- the heart of East Boston community. They reminded me how small acts of kindness and making extra effort (even for a stranger) goes a long, long way.

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