Lessons by the blackboard…

Rick Warren once said that “Significance in life does not come from status because you will always find someone who has more than you; not from sex, not from salary, it comes from serving. It is from giving our lives away that we find significance.” This will be the basis of my entry today…

See I’ll be teaching at a local Primary School for the next 6 weeks for my Community Based Attachment as a requirement to progress with my university education. I’ve wanted to teach children for a long time; it’s always had such a theoretical, poetic ring to it. You know; serving the community, using my English prowess to help those who are less fortunate than I am. So many times I’ve imagined myself standing in front of this group of adoring less fortunate students, disbursing nuggets of knowledge as they wonder why, unlike their own teachers, I never lift a finger to beat them for giving the wrong answers. This was until I was actually introduced as a “young teacher” two days ago; I realized that I was actually going to do this for real.

See, I’m an introverted visionary. Now, there are two things we have to recognize here. First, that I am constantly plagued by nagging ambitions to positively influence the world by being an agent of change, therefore I am a champion of equality, literacy, poverty-eradication and public whipping of all Members of Parliament. I want to see the world become a better place and I want to be a part of this change. Heck, I want to lead this revolution! However, comes the introverted part… I am out of my comfort zone when surrounded by a multitude of strangers who do not understand the intrinsic orientation of my kind, i.e. to be comfortable on their own. Do not mistake this with shyness, no. Shyness is the fear of being judged by your immediate society hence one prefers not to interact; introversion is when energy from interacting with people around you drains your own energy reserves, hence an introvert prefers to feed off his/ her own inner thoughts and feelings as this is how they gain energy. Anyway, I digress…

Can you see the conflict here? I want to be a part of my own ideal, yet it is against my nature to participate in this vision. Such is life. So as I was being introduced as a young teacher, I was exuding this aura of confidence and beaming smiles that could be poached and used in a Colgate infomercial, but inside, I was all jittery, questions flying in and out of my head, such as “So how will I capture all their attention every day? How will I make an impact that will last a lifetime in six friggin’ weeks? What if they disrespect me? What will I do then?”

Real philosophers acknowledge that the only constant in this life is change. My change was from a classroom which had projectors and glass-roofs; tiled floors and shuttered windows as well as lights that actually work to one where the mite-riddled roof had erupted from its’ corners, the doors were nearly torn off their hinges and students with improvised uniforms sat five on a two-seater desk, literally pouring off their wooden boundaries. It was not a shock. I had expected it, but the fact that I had expected it made me feel like more of a stereotyping asshole. Sigh.

So I start tomorrow; trying to spread my small pool of knowledge to several who had to make do with a teaspoon of the same. As I selfishly fight my inner demons to help those being devoured by their larger monsters; those who I desperately want to fight for but constantly run away from. As I attempt to fuse English lessons with life lessons that I hope will help them break out from the inequality life serves to us on a platter and expects us to chew out and survive. The truth is that these children I will face are stronger than I ever will be.

As I entered this school on my first visit, the chart that represents their notice board had a clear account of how much school fees is to be paid, and this was sectioned into several amounts, allocated to several expenses. One of these expenses read “Sanitary pads- Kshs.275” per term. Reality-check anyone? At this point was when Rick Warren’s quote attacked my conscience; even the boys, who have no direct reason to pay for this expense, have their parents contributing to this expense. This was evidence of the community taking care of itself, each one looking out for another; they would like ME there but they do not NEED me there, I am NOT doing them a favor, it hit me, that they were doing ME a favor. Changing my stereotypical world view and erasing my ignorance. I realized then that this was a learning period, not only for them, but for me as well! I look forward to this period of learning, and I’ll try my best to educate you all as well…



6 thoughts on “Lessons by the blackboard…”

  1. First, however cliche this may sound, it’s always,ALWAYS, inspiring to read about somebody out there who sees life in a wider spectrum than individual success. I hope your community based attachment will be all you hope it to be and more.
    My first teaching experience gave me similar jitters, I’m not an introvert but I was worried about giving my students better teaching than anyone ever gave me and in some way making them better than I was and I kept worrying about that for a while. With time the worries subside and with an open mind, your experience will be even better than you expect in the beginning.
    All the best for the 6 weeks you’ll be there. I’d love to read every bit of the experience. 🙂 🙂

    1. Thank you for the encouragement! I always try to look beyond my own self-centeredness and deeper into how life affects other people, even though this statement severely threatens to disprove that 😀 It’s not been all smooth but it’s nothing I can’t handle 🙂

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