when a class becomes a community, it’s awesome

being the only cis-female  

in an STEM engineering class

of cis-males

was new

(especially in a high school school where more “girls” attend than “boys”)

 

so there i was

in a room

alone without female company

with a bunch of guys

who were raised on a diet of mechanics and technology

while i had made a ballsy decision to pursue engineering

a topic i knew next to nothing about

 

for the first week i regretted signing up for the class

 

it felt like a mass of cliche stereotypes

with the boys overlooking social cues

fumbling through conversations

and i could barely keep up with all the

technical terms flying around

which i looked up

google definitions to

watched youtube explanations for

late at night because i was embarrassed

by my ignorance and illiteracy that had been fostered in me

next to

“that’s a boy’s toy”

“let your brother do this”

“your husband will do that for you”

i had been disallowed skills under the hope that someone else would be there

instead of me

and that made me upset because as a teenager i was told it's only natural to want to be independent but i could only be independent if i was dependent on someone else

 

which really wasn't being independent at all

 

and so i got mad

and i wanted to quit

(but i missed the deadline to switch

so i was stuck

in that class with a bunch of people and a bunch of tools

i didn’t know the names of nor how they worked)

 

i learned though

i studied how to ask questions that masked my ignorance

how to appear engaged when my mind was spinning faster than our CNC drill bit

so i could figure it out later at home

(because the room felt like an unshared space)

but i came to realize that that's what classmates are for

to fill in the gaps of education

they are the bridges to higher understanding

so when i

grew to know my seatmates

and they no longer were just peers and acquaintances

but greetings in the hallways

and inside jokes

i found myself adopted

and supported

 

and it was a family that we had in that machine room

we bickered and teased each other

and we stuck with each other

and we grew to want to help each other

and be exasperated by each other

because we finally knew each other

 

we learned dirty secrets

and found dark corners

and prodded old bruises

but remade each other stronger

because we learned where to provide structural support

when we had the schematics in front of us

 

we learned about tensile strength

and how when things reach the breaking point

past the modulus elasticity

they become deformed

and we applied that to

when things go downhill in life

because we knew

from all the duct tape and plastic straw and paper design challenges

how brittle something can look

doesn’t undermine its capability

and how sometimes things need to snap

to be remade

improved

so when

the red emergency stop button had to be pressed

to a tune of s.o.s

in our lives

we took care

picked up the pieces

worked from the ground up

and redesigned each other

 

that’s how it this happened

how this became more than a hour of class

in this isolated room on the end of a dead end hall in the back pocket of our building

we became more

not just an assorted mix of geeks and nerds

bolted and screwed together

by the bell schedule

we were more

we were community

we wrote our hopes in formulas

balanced equations and our lives

friction fit ourselves back together

drilled holes through our defenses

rewired our outlook on the world

stained our clothes with grease and hard work

and bled more times to count

(but only because we knew someone had a bandaid)

 

we became structurally sound

counteracting each others parts

we achieved equilibrium

and shifted internally

to create space for one another

and for the 55 minutes

we were in that

Science Technology Engineering Math

class

we

stayed together every moment

 

(which is awesome)

 
This poem is about: 
Me
My community
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 

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