Buried Treasure

Dropping out of middle school to earn a meager handful of much-needed dollars for his family captured Hamzi in a very bad story.

A bad life-story that will cut his future down to a small size of struggle and second-rate opportunities. But it is also a story of buried treasure.

Hamzi was a good student. Math was his favorite subject – his passion. He had to put this passion on ice, maybe forever, when he dropped out to go to work in construction as a 16-year-old.

And it was hard to see his buddies going on to high school. He was left out. Alone. Shunted to the sidelines.

Then he was introduced to our alternative education program. A way for him to complete 10th grade and still provide some income to his family.

Mohammed, his educational facilitator, spotted his love for math. He himself has a Master’s degree in mathematics. In a discussion one day, Hamzi got the idea of adding numbers without the traditional “carry-over” system.

So he figured out a way to add, subtract, and multiply that is based on grouping units of ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands. New to him. Outside of the box.

But what he “discovered” was in fact the revolutionary way math is taught today, in order to prepare young people for grasping how computers compute.

We talked with him about other ways to do math, such as the abacus – also based on units of ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands. Ways that reflect what he figured out on his own. What a treasure we found in Hamzi.


Questscope Founder Curt Rhodes with Hamzi and Mohammed

This treasure would have lain buried in him as he worked construction. But now it does not have to. In many ways, alternative education facilitators are treasure-hunters, creating space for creativity to come to the surface. For sparks to be fanned. For futures to be re-envisioned.

There are thousands of young people with buried treasures like Hamzi. And there are hundreds of educational facilitators like Mohammed who are ready to dig it out with them.

Your gift ensures youth like Hamzi have the chance to return to school. And the chance to find mentors like Mohammed who will see beyond the rough exterior of poverty to the treasures they hold inside.

Now Hamzi feels like he is back on track with his passion. He intends to be a professor of mathematics one day. A long pathway. But he is on it again. Not on the sidelines anymore.

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