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.