Hi, y’all. I’m Elizabeth Muire, I’m an English teacher and an SOS staff member. I didn’t get to go to Wuxi, but I got lucky enough to be asked to help when the students from Wuxi came here anyway.
A fun fact about me: If you asked me at any moment who my favorite historical figure is, I would answer William Barret Travis, commander of the Alamo garrison. I can recite Alamo statistics in my sleep, so I was the obvious choice when SOS was looking for one of us to lead the tour of the Alamo.
We came to the Alamo direct from Mission Jose, where Park Ranger Tom gave a good tour and historical accounting of Spanish settlement and the building of the Missions. Then we literally moved into the city and metaphorically moved into the Texas Revolution. I thought it would be easy—I’m a teacher, I know this stuff, I love this story that I get to tell.
But then the question arises: how do you really explain to someone a historical even that shaped your entire cultural worldview? No matter how much you care about it, how do you explain the need to Remember the Alamo when that person doesn’t remember it?
And then I wondered what it had been for them. What part of Wuxi had they fumbled and struggled to explain to their new friends, something they felt was integral to them, and something they felt utterly inadequate to explain?
In that moment of clarity, I found my voice. And in short sentences and bare facts, I relayed through the translator the major details of my hero, William Travis, the woodsman Davy Crockett, the cannoneer Almeron Dickenson and his wife Susanna, and the 180-odd heroes who died to buy Texas time.
As I led them through the museum complex, I let the weight of history and the talking walls of the Alamo give the impact of the story.
And they could hear it from the walls, feel it in the air. I could tell, in their faces, in their hushed conversations, in their slow tread, that they heard what my heart was telling them, even when my words could not.
And it seems to me, watching the students intentionally and steadily build connections between our cities, so much of our communication—and communion—happens in the silence, when we let the weight of emotion do the talking for us. And as usual, when I reach out to teach students about the things I love, I wound up learning as much as I taught.