In 2013, Aaron, a freshman at Corliss High School on the South Side of Chicago, was living on the streets.
His English class was participating in StoryCorpsU, an education program that uses StoryCorps broadcasts and interview techniques to help students find their voice and strengthen their relationships with teachers.
Celeste Davis-Carr, Aaron’s teacher, learned that Aaron was homeless through a recording he made for StoryCorpsU.
A year later, they sat down to make another recording for StoryCorps.
Aaron’s last name and photo are being withheld at the request of his foster care agency.
Click here for the transcript.
Aaron: I felt awkward, like a big load was let off because, I mean, I just said it. I don't know what made me say it but I'm like, let me just be honest and just get it out.
CDC: I was scared because I felt helpless. I didn't know what to do, but at the same time I felt I had an obligation to try my best to help you.
A: Yeah, I didn't even know you actually listened to that one.
CDC: I listened to all of them, Aaron [laughs].
A: Yeah, I didn't really think that I would ever really tell a teacher, but it makes me know that you're special because you care. You talk to me and make sure that I'm cool. Because sometimes kids were bullying me, calling me a freak of nature, throwing chairs, throwing glass and stuff at me.
CDC: I've had to deal with some bullying issues when I was in school but not to the extent that you have. I was always picked on because I was a tomboy and I was afraid. Were you surprised that I would tell you that?
A: I mean, you seem pretty cool, I don't think no one would mess with you.
CDC: So overall how do you feel? You have more friends this year?
A: Yes, I have more friends this year.
CDC: So it's better than last year?
A: Yeah. You know, I'm in a foster home now -- been since October.
CDC: Do you feel different living in a foster home?
A: It's good actually. I feel comfortable. Where I am now, it kind of feels like home.
CDC: So can I tell you one thing that I really admire about you, Aaron? Because I've never told you. Do you know how strong you are?
A: [Laughs] no.
CDC: You've never realized that…
CDC: But you have a strength that no matter what anyone says about you or they do to you, you don't change who you are as a person. And a lot of people don't have that strength. So I admire that about you.
A: Thank you.
CDC: Don't make me cry again, Aaron.
CDC: I want to see you happy. Just your smile is the best moments of you.
A: Thank you. That means a lot to me.