Mr. Banchi took to the front of the room, as he had done for many years, reading a classic to us Of Mice and Men. Some of us listened intently, while most of us squirmed in our seats, I was wondering how this book could change us, how we would use this in our adult lives.
Just as boredom seemed to creep into our bottoms he leapt upon an empty student desk, his fist pumping the air above him, and his voice booming through the halls of Bensalem High School “’ Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.’”
Some of us giggled at the sight of “The Banch” as his belly rolled and his face twisted with anger. I searched the text, seeking to find the quote or to discover that he was stating a thought from his own mind. Expelling a nervous breath I realized he was quoting John Steinbeck. And there Mr. Banchi stood, reading the book, perched precariously on the desk. Words flowed from him, and I somehow knew that this book was going to make a difference. I knew that this teacher was setting himself apart from all of the others, and making the words freeze into our memories for eternity.
Closing the book, he sat silent for a moment, he seemed to be in a sort of meditation, allowing us to absorb the words of Steinbeck. His head rose, and as he always did he interpreted the pages he had just read to us in his own words. Awesome, I thought.
The Banch grabbed a stack of student papers and returned our essays to us just as the bell rang. Trudging from 11th Grade English, I felt myself transported into reality as he handed me my essay, “A Girls’ Nightmare.” He stooped down to make eye contact with me, I tried to avoid it, but our eyes locked. I didn’t feel the normal fear of him seeing into my soul as I did when others met my eyes. After all, he had seen into my soul, through my words etched carefully onto the pages he was now returning to me.
As our eyes met, I witnessed a grown man with tears in his eyes, and I found no shame in that. “Powerful!” was all that he said, and it was all that he needed to say. That one word would change the course of my life forever, it would show me that writing about pain is an amazing way to communicate to others that the world doesn’t have to be as it is. Words, immortalized onto pages, could make others feel as we do, they can cause change, prevent disasters, and create love.
Mr. Banchi’s passion for words transgressed all differences between him and I, they brought me to a place where I could grow, and commit to heart the love that I feel within.
Communication, the one thing that brings us together, or separates us from the world, it is up to us what we choose to do with it, but it is our duty to make a difference with this ability that God has offered.