After Ms. Gruwell and her students organized “Basketball for Bosnia,” a basketball tournament meant to raise money to give supplies to children in Bosnia, this student feels that s/he wants to join Ms. Gruwell’s class, because they act like a real family. S/he is impressed by the fact that no one cares about each other’s appearances, but is merely concerned about the cause they are fighting for.
This student shows that what matters most to her at school is in large part her/his sense of belonging to a positive environment, thanks to her/his classmates’ attitudes. The solidarity and cooperation that Ms. Gruwell has fostered strikes her/him as an extraordinary feat, from which s/he can personally benefit.
This makes this student think about her/his own life, as s/he never felt that s/he belonged in her/his honors class. S/he has also always felt rejected by other people, who have made fun of her/his weight. These experiences left this student feeling alone and ashamed. S/he found success at school, where s/he became an excellent student and gained stronger self-esteem. At Basketball for Bosnia, all these insecurities disappeared when s/he joined the crowd of people dancing on the basketball court, cheered on in the center of the line by warm, friendly people who did not care about her/his appearance.
These reflections confirm that intellectual stimulation and academic success on their own are insufficient in determining a student’s enjoyment of school. What also needs to be fostered is a foundation of respect and collaboration, through which students can unite in order to engage with what they truly care about. S/he realizes that what s/he lacks is self-confidence and a positive environment in which s/he can feel that s/he is truly herself.