Teaching and Learning, at once.

I’ve been sick for almost three days. I felt the fever coming on as I taught my 5th graders on Monday morning, and then decided to go home when I could no longer keep my head up. Now, the fever has passed, leaving me with a cold, a cough, and lower-body problems. As I am alone in my room, sneezing my brains and guts out, I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to update my blog. For those who check regularly, I’m sorry for the delay; so much has happened since I last updated that I did not know where to begin.

For this reason, I would like to focus on the most important goings-on of late. To me, this means talking about the children I volunteered to teach. Their parents work for very little pay, don’t work at all, and many times, are very bad role models for the children. Some parents are very abusive and dominating at home, so whatever the children cannot do at home, such as expressing themselves, they do so at the school in other ways. This includes enacting the same abuse they see at home on others, yelling and screaming, and disrespecting their elders (including me).

I’ve gotten most of the upper classes on board with my teaching style, but there are still some classes which, perhaps, do not understand why they have to learn English or why I came fromAmericato teach them. It has been difficult trying to get through to them. But, I’m only here for 5 more months. After that, they may get a completely different volunteer with a completely different teaching style; someone they will have to adapt to all over again. This scares me a little because what if the next volunteer does not speak fluent English, and teaches them incorrect English…or is that not the point? More time here will tell.

The majority of the kids here have next to nothing. They wear the same thing everyday despite it being ripped or torn. Like I said earlier, many of the parents are not good role models for the children. One mother is a prostitute. Her daughter does not know and does not understand why strange men visit her home. The daughter, let’s call her Emily, barely has any clothes that fit and does not even have a bedroom. What she does have is intelligence. Emily is probably the smartest girl in the school. She has an incredible drive to learn and explore. Patient and big-hearted, she looks out for everyone as well as herself. It’s very inspiring, and I can’t help but to compare these children with some of the ones I know back inAmerica. If it’s one thing that these kids have that many children in other places don’t have, it’s gratitude.

One child that also really inspires me is a 9 year old boy. Let’s call him Michael. Michael has no parents. They left him last year, got married to other people and now live in a big city. We don’t know if they are coming back for him. Michael lives with his extremely elderly grandparent, who, I think, is not able to work. Michael owns two or three t-shirts, five shorts, and one pair of long pants. Their house is one, big room. If not for the care of relatives, I don’t know what condition Michael and his grandparent would be in. The thing about Michael that really gets me is that he is smiling, almost always smiling (the most adorable smile!). He is the poster boy for adoption adverts. I do my best to look out for him, but I’m afraid he will end up like so many before him; showing potential, not being able to reach it due his poverty, and becoming like so many people before him, bitter and lost.

As much as I try to teach these kids, they end up teaching me instead. I’ve been here for exactly one month, and I’ve learned so much. The “meaning of patience” (as the previous volunteer said I would learn), the value of family, and gratitude for everything I have and everything I could have had, but somehow don’t.



            Sampai jumpa, teman-teman saya.

7 thoughts on “Teaching and Learning, at once.

  1. Nesha that’s a very sad tale you tell of these less than fortunate kids . Kids amaze me by being able to remain happy and big hearted even though they have little. My kindergarten kids I teach couldn’t be in a more different situation. They are all rich kids of Shanghai whose parents pay out the big bucks to enroll them in bi-lingual kindergartens. We need to remember that poverty is out there and do our best to help. Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Dave! Thanks for commenting. Soo interesting that we’re doing the same thing in similar parts of the world and yet in opposite social classes. Do you know about Conectando Mundos?? Im part of it and im going to use it in my classes once i get back to teaching. It’s an online program for kids where they connect with other schools and kids all over the world. It’s pretty awesome stuff.

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