I have learned so much in the last ten weeks.
Mostly… mostly I have learned to question things in my life. I touched on this in an older post, but I really wanted to get into some of the more personal realizations I’ve had.
1. Teachers (the majority of them) work so much harder than any of us (other than those of us who have taught) could ever imagine. Especially teachers that work in schools with limited supplies. Instead of computer-generated worksheets or word-processed activities, we make our worksheets with markers and printer paper. We create almost everything we use because we need to and because we want to give the students the most enriching classroom experience possible. I teach for approximately 4.5 hours a day, and I am incredibly exhausted after each and every day. I have to constantly be excited to teach (although its never a problem to be excited to teach them), otherwise why would our students be excited to learn? I’ve always appreciated my teachers for the effort they put into their lessons, but now I have a whole new level of understanding, empathy, and appreciation for the amazing people who dedicate their lives to enriching the minds of others.
2. I appreciate my legs. This is weird, but I really, really enjoy being able to walk anywhere I need. I would absolutely love to eventually live somewhere a car wasn’t a necessity. Living 5 miles from a Sheetz (the only attraction in my home township) is not what I enjoy. I really love the ability to go outside and enjoy my surroundings and the journey anywhere instead of moving from a house to a car to another building.
3. The love a child can give is one of the most amazing, rewarding, and beautiful things in the world. I have been told many times that I am loved by these children, and I believe it every time. They don’t judge. They just love. I have been cried to about home issues; in one instance, one of our students came in and begin sobbing onto my shoulder about how his mother yelled at him. I have been asked daily when I’m leaving, and when I respond with “soon,” I get wails of “nooooo!!” and “Teacher don’t leave!” I am hugged every day and loved everyday, and that is something that nobody will ever be able to take away from me. The amount of love these children have to share is incredible and it is the rarest and most beautiful gifts I’ve ever received. These children have given me their hearts, and they will forever have mine.
4. Service is an adventure and an experienced and should be treated as such. There is no simple equation for true service.There is no “painting this + building that = service” formula. Not at all. Service is so much more than that, and Outreach has really honed their ability to share that with their volunteers. I have discovered such a passion for service on my trip down here. Sharing what I know with others and educating in an area where education is needed is something that not many people understand. Sure, you can build a house, or donate clothes, or give money to an organization or an impoverished area. And those things are great in their own way! But what will happen when the house you built breaks, or the clothes are worn until they disintegrate, or the money you donated runs out? Isn’t it so much better (and more fulfilling) to show people how to make their own lives better? That may be a view not shared by everyone, but it is definitely one I have come to believe wholeheartedly.
This is already pretty long. And I’m sure I’ll be writing tons of reflection posts in the next few weeks as my time here dwindles and my return to Ohio happens. So thanks for reading!