Thursday, February 20, 2014

2/21/2014: “Education is a work of love”

Life in Mozambique has been absolutely hectic lately. On our school wall, there is a mural that says, “Education is a work of love” (well, really it’s in Portuguese but for your enjoyment I’ve written it in English). I have always admired teachers; many of my teachers are actually my greatest heroes and inspiration.
But during the past 2 weeks I have begun to truly learn the meaning behind education is a work of love. Spending time with my students in the backcountry, caring for their every need and safety I felt the meaning behind this saying. But I never imagined fully learning about the love in a classroom. It’s a whole different vibe but just as important and vital. My students are looking to me for answers, inspiration, knowledge. And I somehow have to translate it to them. I have to be there for them and stay patient when they get too rowdy. When a desk falls on my foot and I’m in so much pain I collapse, I have to look up at my student and say “It’s fine. It was a mistake. No worries” while really I want to scream and cry. When one student starts to get smart and talk back and act up I have to find a way to be nice but firm at the same time. And some how during all of this I have to explain chemistry—something I struggled with myself. But with love and patience and time, I think my students and I will come to an understanding and go down this road together.
I was thinking about the saying “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” Whoever said that, I challenge to face the struggles and the rewards of standing in a classroom in a village of Africa teaching chemistry in Portuguese. It’s not because I can’t—I am qualified for multiple jobs, I can do many different things. I CHOOSE to do THIS. I choose to instead help inspire a future generation and hopefully make some movement that I can’t even begin to predict right now. I’ve decided the saying is quite selfish. It is selfish to not want to share passion and knowledge, it is selfish to not want to continue the education in the classroom and feel the excitement of a student finally grasping a difficult concept or the reward of a student saying “thank you.” There are many teachers in high school and college I still visit (well…not presently as I’m on a different continent, but you get the idea) and they are beyond intelligent and able but they chose to share their knowledge with us and often get students like me are forever grateful for their passion and love and because of that I go back often to say “thank you.”
Regardless of what anyone says, education is a labor of love and I am grateful to have the energy and desire to pursue this labor.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

2/6/2014: Primeira Semana, this is my life

It’s been a while since I blogged last. Mostly because there hasn’t been much to say. I’ve been melting while folks back home have been buried in snow. I’ve been spending my days at the school organizing various types of school records and just in general helping the secretary get ready for the school year.
But this past week alone has been quite hectic in my little world.
I’m a year older. And for the first time in a long time I didn’t have my best friends around me to help me celebrate. I was kind of hurt and homesick for a bit. And here’s the thing about the new life I’m living. You have to make a new family. You have to find people who will take you in and be your home away from home. And I praise God that I have just that. So I didn’t have my best friends around me and that will always kind of suck, but I’m not alone, and that is just a wonderful feeling. I have truly seen this past week the support system I have. I have my family and friends in the states praying for me and anxiously packing packages to send to me. And I have friends here who graciously opened their lives up to this strange American and helped me create a family away from home, because they also have had to do so and know first hand how hard it can be to be away from home on holidays and birthdays.
 The other big news in the life of me and Katniss is…FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL…in my best Nemo impression. We have survived the insane world of first week of school in Mozambique. By the time we finally got our schedules all finalized (for now) I had 3 termas (classes) of 9th grade Chemistry. Which means 6 hours a week. It took us quite a while and many conversations around a scheduling program to finally get this schedule in place, but it seems to be working.
The first day, I was supposed to teach last period. The way it works here, the students stay in one class room and the teachers move around. And there’s a long morning break for 20 minutes. Well the first day, my wonderful students left school during the morning break. I was discouraged but reminded myself it’s the very first week, much like in the states it’s our time to get back into the routine and introductions (I mean, there’s this white American teaching them in broken Portuguese…a whole class period is spent on introductions).
Among all of this, my friend Kelly, who is in another country for Peace Corps posted a blog that made me realize something. I love my village, I love my job, but it’s hard to remember sometimes that this is my actual life. 2 years isn’t really temporary at all. This is 2 years where I can either be extremely happy and make memories or I can wait for it to be over. But either way, it is 2 years of MY LIFE. She got some advice from a friend that really hit home for me and I just want to take a second and share it, and reflect on it. (We do a lot of reflecting here I think…some days there isn’t much else to do but reflect).
“Don’t bother counting the days. The end will come when it comes and what seemed at the time so far away will eventually be too close for comfort. Enjoy yourself and remember that this is your actual life for two years, not an event for you to spectate. Embrace what’s out there to be embraced while you can. Everybody goes home someday, just make sure you don’t ‘leave’ before you your time’s up”
I personally enjoying counting months (not days) just because I’m a very goal orientated person and it actually makes me proud to take a link off of my monthly countdown chain and I say “yeah! I accomplished another month in my goal!” But my friend’s advice reminds me of another thing. This isn’t a weekend trip or a vacation from life or a break from the world. This is part of my life. When I go home, I will be practically 25. I won’t get 22, 23, 24 years old back. Those years are happening. Here. It’s a nice reminder that life is happening, this isn’t pretend and it all continues on. So I’m here to make the best of it. Do the best teaching I can, make as many friends as I can, create as many memories as possible…because at the end of this, I will have lived 2 more years of my life.

Meanwhile, I am off to get ready for my adventure into the city for some school supply shopping and picking up PACKAGES! Finally :)