The students’ questions open glimpses and opportunities for dialogue to be grasped immediately: a witness from France.

When days are filled with meetings and things to do, a simple exchange with another, even fleeting one, can be very significant. Last year, we started working in a big high school in Corenc, in the outskirts of Grenoble, close to where we live. We work in “surveillance”; our job is to supervise the students as they do their homework in the classroom, or as they study in the afternoon. Even if we see the students a lot, sometimes up to four hours at a time, our task is to keep them concentrated and studying well—during the exams, for example, silence is mandatory, and when they study, any form of disruption is forbidden. Not exactly the ideal conditions for dialogue! On the other hand, usually they themselves are intent on the exam they are taking, due to pressure, stress, and sometimes competition. And yet, between their studies and our work, I have had the occasion to speak with them and to hear the beautiful questions they have, questions which, snatched from within the frenetic daily grind, break open the horizon and widen it.
For example, as I passed through the desks observing the students of the last year of high school—the university “preparatory classes”—Joachim raised his eyes from his book and asked me, “Excuse me, do you believe that there is a destiny? It’s something we have been talking about; I don’t believe there is, but Margaux does”. Another time, I was in the surveillance office waiting for the register of my class. It is a constant stream of teachers coming and going and students seeking justifications, photocopies, and attendance registers. Yet it was there that one student, Frederic, as he handed me the register, asked, “What do you say, Mariagiulia: do you think hell exists?”. Then the bell rang. “It’s time to enter the classroom but we need to talk!” I told him. And then, as I walked towards the hall I noticed that Samuel wasn’t doing anything, I moved towards him and he said, “ I can’t focus today. But I wanted to ask you, why are you dressed like that? And why do you work here? And why did you decide to become a sister?”. Kenza’s question was similarly direct: “You are a sister?”. After I nodded, she continued, “So, you are a believer. You believe in God, right?”.
At the end of every day, I am aware that our mission here begins by not letting slip even one of these exchanges. These questions, snatched from the frenzy, from the usual routine, are so fleeting that one minute after they could be swept away. But in reality, they are pearls that are given to us and we should protect them, because when they are taken seriously, they can become real treasures, true possibilities to dialogue and to proclaim. In this way, as we fulfill our work, God opens doors.

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