So the last couple of weeks have pretty much been loco.
My exhusband has been in the Dominican Republic for three weeks. This is awesome and also really hard. It’s awesome because I get to have my daughter 24/7. And its hard because I get to have my daughter 24/7.
And when I say 24/7, I REALLY MEAN 24/7. Because she even goes to my school now.
She’s not “in my class” but she’s in the same building. This is also really awesome and really hard. It’s awesome because I love seeing her so happy here and I can spy on her and send spies to spy on her. It’s hard because I’m trying to do reports after school and concentrate on writing eloquent emails and I hear my child singing in the background about “whip me nene or watch my nene” or whatever that song is that all the children are singing nowadays.
And I’ve been SO excited to see my students. And I’m over the moon that I have 40 NEW KINDERGARTENERS in my English as a Second Language Program. I love seeing these bright eyed babies walking into school with their brand new backpacks, ready to conquer what lies in front of them. They are SO brave; because this is SCHOOL. And some of them don’t even know what school is or what their teacher is saying or when they will get to eat lunch or play outside. But they just do the next thing and figure things out and hug their teachers and grow up so quickly in that first week. It’s do or die for these kindergarteners. And they always just DO because they quickly learn to be brave.
I love observing my students who are new to the country take in all the bright colors in their classrooms and school supplies and computers and calculators. It’s culture shock in its richest form–with the word, rich, being a double entendre in this situation. Everything about this country and this new classroom may feel expensive but also complex in the new textures and sights and sounds.
I have been teaching ESL for fifteen years now. There are so many anecdotes I could tell you about my students. Some of the stories are really funny. Some of them are really sad. Others are both funny and sad. But I will tell you those stories another day. Because today, I only want to say one thing. And that is that I continue to be amazed at my students’ bravery and coping skills.
I mean, can you imagine suddenly having to attend school in a foreign country, not understanding the language spoken around you? Can you imagine how hard that lovely brain of yours would be working for 7-8 hours straight, trying to understand what’s going on? Can you imagine not knowing what time you are going to eat or why you are suddenly singing a song in a language you don’t know or why the other kids who DO know your language, but have been here longer than you, just seem to “get it?”
Can you imagine?
They are so brave. Their little brains work hard and even if their parents don’t know how to help them with their homework, they figure it out and grow up quickly. They learn how to speak, listen, and then read and write in this new language. They develop this gift of bilingualism–a gift that I pray will not be taken for granted.
So tonight, I am up past my bedtime, because I can’t stop thinking about them and their smiling faces and how they inspire me to be brave everyday.
There are times I just want to lie in bed and play Candy Crush or Candy Soda Crush or Words with Friends or read People magazine. But when I think of my school babies–I suddenly remember that I am here to fulfill a greater purpose than to score 20,000 points in Candy Crush.
I am here to do good and to be brave and to connect with people. And now I must go and do that. That’s my legacy.
I am thankful. And you should be, too. Because we are here to do great things.