Tag Archives: teacher

my eyes have seen.

Wow.  

I didn’t know that it would hit me this hard. As soon as Piero extended his 6-year-old arms toward me, my vision blurred. I could no longer see clearly, or think clearly for that matter, and I no longer wanted to leave. What really struck my heart was that he wouldn’t let go, he didn’t want to let go. It wasn’t me trying my hardest to hold on to him. It wasn’t me prolonging class an extra five minutes to get more time with them. It wasn’t me demanding hugs at the end of every class. It was him; rather, it was all of them. They didn’t want to let go, and I didn’t want to let them.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt such love in one hug.

Size certainly does not determine the quality or the quantity of love that’s possible to show in one embrace. At that moment, I felt completely vulnerable. Vulnerable because I thought I could no longer help these children. Vulnerable because there’s every possibility in the world that I will never see these children again; I don’t even know their last names. Vulnerability overtook me because in that instant, God told me why I had come to this country and how I can make myself better. Humility swept every other emotion away. 

God showed me that despite my doubts, hesitations and qualms, I had actually made a difference. I pray with all of my heart that these kids will remember me – not necessarily remember that I taught them how to greet someone in English and that conejo means rabbit, they’ll probably forget that in two months – but that they remember me because I poured the contents of my heart into caring for them and lovingly teaching them to the best of my ability.

I will certainly never forget their miniature hands raising their messily decorated tongue depressors (palitos), – a tool I used for when they wanted to be called on: no palito, no opportunity to speak – their miniature wingspan pressing open to give the biggest, most loving hug I’ve felt, their undeniable thirst for knowledge, their ability to learn English so quickly; even better, their desire to learn English that was unparalleled with any of my other classes.

They looked at me with their wide, almost-black puppy eyes as more than just an American girl, more than a volunteer, more than someone who will be out of their lives in four weeks, more than just their teacher. That look cannot be described, cannot be duplicated, cannot be forgotten.

This might just sum it up, though:

Ruth, one of my second-grade students, wrote this on my goodbye note:

 

Para: Mis Carli

Yo te quiero mucho mis Carli

Usted es como mi mama

Nunca voy a dejar de pensar de usted

Soy: Ruth

 

For Miss Carlita

I like you a lot, Miss Carlita

You are like my mom

I will never stop thinking about you

From Ruth

 

This, from a six-year-old.

I praise God for this opportunity, I praise Him that He worked so mightily in me to affect these kids’ lives. They certainly changed mine.

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Do everything in love. 

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plan.

Planning is a funny word. Especially when that planning is referring to four weeks of lesson plans for a Peruvian public school consisting of students I hadn’t met yet. Not only did I not know these students, but I had no idea how well they knew English. I was the second English-teacher volunteer, so I figured these kids would definitely know their numbers, colors and animal at this point and just needed a little refresher course on greetings before moving on to the next subject in the curriculum.

I definitely overestimated.

Not only was I teaching, a skill slightly out of my comfort zone, but I was teaching completely in Spanish — and to kids who have not been taught properly since Day 1. Many aspects of the Peruvian education system intrigued me.

The students don’t really know how to learn. And yes, learning is a skill. Generally speaking, their whole lives, they have been fed information, told to copy it down word-for-word in their notebooks and then move on to the next subject. Repeat. These kids spend more time making sure their notes look pretty — using every color pen they have, alternating letters with different colors and drawing perfectly straight lines with their rulers at unnecessary times. This proved the highest hurdle — explaining to them that there was an English way to say “¿Como te llamas?” Instead, they would memorize the phrases without having any understanding of what English sounds were coming out of their mouths.

This stigma manifested itself more with the older grades — 3rd through 6th. My first- and second-graders were wonderful. Their fresh, uninhibited brains soaked up my method of teaching and most of them knew their greetings — and knew what they meant — by the end of my four weeks.

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 Photos by Anna Trego
Do everything in love.
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