Friday, April 29, 2011

Orphanage update #1

Everything is going pretty well with visiting the orphanage regularly. I do a lot of tutoring English. I also witness a lot of the kids' "growing pains," since I sit at a table right in the middle of their group. Oh, the drama.

Some time ago I mentioned a new girl, Dasha. As new kids have been coming in, I've been noticing the power struggles. A new kid either makes a name for himself among the other kids by doing something bad early on (skipping class together, obtaining cigarettes, etc.), or he keeps to himself and is ostracized.

Unfortunately, Dasha hasn't made a friend in the group. She has not even acquired a "partner in-crime," which is how so many of the friendships start out. The counselors praise her studiousness, though they do not seem to be doing anything to help her develop her social skills. I saw her giggling a little when the boys teased, and I thought perhaps she was going to break into normal adolescence. But the teasing took on more of a taunting nature.

Her studiousness, frank manner, and nervous tics have become fodder for rejection by the rest of the group. I hoped so much for her that she either didn't care about the foolish words from others, or cared enough to try to break out of her shell and make a few friendly gestures.

"I am going to appeal to the director to leave this group," she announced recently, as the other children and counselors snickered. I wished I could just lend her a little patience to get through the next few years. While "behind" in some ways, she is simultaneously more mature than the other kids, since she doesn't play their little games.

I was reminded of the film "Chuchelo," a very compelling Russian film in which a young girl is ostracized by the rest of her class. It's similar to "Lord of the Flies" in that it depicts some frightening human tendencies that surface in group situations. I very much hope that Dasha will cling to the few positives in her life and not continue to be a victim of society or of her own troubled past.


  1. This breaks my heart. She must feel so alone. it really makes me angry that there are no adults that befriend her.

  2. She loves adults, especially her school teacher. But her behavior can be a little odd. For example, she likes to "pet" whatever clothing I'm wearing. But I do think she just needs some more mature friends with whom to hold intellectual conversations.

  3. I've run across a few children like this.... I theorize it is a dearth of "social intelligence". And, boy; do kids pick up on this! They hate it, and so do adults, actually. I've seen kids be so amazingly compassionate to kids with learning disabilities, or ADHD, or Downs....but a child with this social seems there is little hope.

  4. In general I think this is true, though she may be able to find a kindred spirit.


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