Tanzania, Haven of Peace Academy, 6th grade English, this place fits me! I finally had my simple realizations that I am officially a teacher. I’d been believing that I lacked the talent/ability/proper education to be a teacher for so long that when my current profession dawned on me, it caught me by quite an unexpected surprise. This feeling was identified on Monday afternoon after my first day of school was technically finished. Students were being directed to the correct buses, parents were swarming around to gather and collect multiple children with left over bits of lunch, dangling art projects and informational letters to parents that always accompany students home on the first day of school. In the midst of all this running around, there was the excitement of a first day and the relief that it was over without any major problems. I expected my day to be nearly over, with the simple tasks of surfing the internet and walking home to an ice cold fanta remaining on my mental agenda. However, I was, of course, mistaken. I had to meet my students’ parents! They were so eager to meet me and express their gratitude towards me for being a teacher at HOPAC. They showed up with smiles and offering plates of decorated baked goods.
These encounters with the parents pushed me over the top. Not only had I not expected to find such well behaved children, but I had no idea that their parents would be lining up to make me dinners once a week! They were so happy to trust me with their children’s education.
It is now day six, and I keep expecting something to pop up, making my experience so far turn the slightest degree sour, nothing could be this wonderful! In fact there are dangers in mistaking things to be better than they appear. I keep praying that this year would continue to go so well and I’m reassured that the reason why it seems delightful is simply because my current reality is finally lining up with what God wants for me and wants me to do. I have this magnitude of joy, gratitude, and hope to be appreciated at this school (for, really, not doing anything yet) after sitting behind a desk for a year in an office environment where I couldn’t do anything right no matter how right I was.
For those of you who are interested in a little more of the specifics instead of the general feelings: My 6th grade English class meets four times a week for 45 minute lessons. There are 22 of them and although they’re not all brilliant, they are all wonderfully delightful children. I meet two 6th grade EAL students, two 7th grade EAL students, and two 9th grade EAL students three times a week each for additional English support. Three afternoons a week I teach the kindergarten class for an hour and a half. There are about 20 of the little squeezes. (wow, that’s a transition… going from grade 7 to kindergarten!) Thursday afternoons I meet with the other EAL teachers and am available to help with the service learning for grades 6,7, and 8. Next week I will be adding to my schedule some time to help with a few EAL students in the primary classrooms. When swimming starts, I will be helping get programs and competitive teams up and running. It sounds like a lot, but really its just a lot of little bits here and there. And I love it.