Here it is: the final push toward the end. Spring break (Copán with the partner in crime, wonderful, beautiful, comforting, heartbreaking, all the expected superlatives) ends tonight and only (or “only”) eight weeks of teaching remain. I remember early September and questioning survival until the five day weekend at the end of October. That weekend is long gone—but so easy to recall—and now I cling to the promise of permanent relief from this…this…grand experience.
The activities calendar for these last weeks is a procrastinator’s delight of events that could have been spread more evenly over this year but instead have been saved up until we are all exhausted and sick of this. Okay, maybe that’s just me. Science Fair (Come up with an entertaining science project with limited resources!), Parents’ Day (Make your kids do something adorable!), International Day (Make food from your country! Sell it! Maybe you’ll earn back the money you spent!), and Academic Olympics (Make up a game that tests smarts!). Too many of these boil down to This [vague idea] sounds really fun. You [teacher] come up with something educational that everyone will enjoy and make money for the school.
So much freedom and pressure does not summon creativity. Rather it unleashes the demons of self-doubt and anxiety and frustration and resentment. This is why I will never teach again at a general school such as this, where I know this insistence on extracurriculars is the norm. It’s these things that feed the growing monster that hisses I’m paying to teach at the school. I’m paying for this stress, and now you want me to spend more of my money—regardless of little it will be in actuality—and more of my time to make fun for the kids (overlooking that I do all in my power to make learning fun everyday)? Welcome to volunteering.
I don’t think like this most of the time. Only when I’m pushed. My inverse is quite ugly. It doesn’t help that most of the other volunteers, on the surface anyway, are unflustered. It’s only Vee and me, and maybe the sixth grade teacher, we who struggle with the hormone-throbbing whiny rebels, whose shoulders sag in anticipation of these events. But the distance to the end, rather than from the beginning, is now countable in weeks.
In addition to the weekly count, I’m starting the retrospective. I wonder who will remember me. I remember many of my teachers, and several, particularly those from middle school, are gone from my memory. I don’t expect to remembered by all—I don’t care about that—I want to be remembered by the students I work for, the ones who want to learn or who are at least diligent or with whom I’ve forged a connection…like Joe and Krissy and Isabel and one of my geeky boys and a few of the ninth graders, who rarely find themselves on this blog. The ones for whom I fight, despite my inadequacy. Volunteering may seem a selfless act, but my ego cries for recognition of the sweat and wrinkles, and the everything I’ve given here. Some will, I know. The dear ones…?
And who will I remember?
I’m questioning how I’ve changed. I have, but will save those observations for the end.
I don’t, and imagine I won’t, question if this has been worth it.
An abrupt ending, but I want to spend these last hours in a book or watching a series that I discovered a few days ago. Then it’s once more unto the breach, dear readers. (Well, if I can find it.)
P.S. Photo from Finca El Cisne, a place you must visit if ever in Copán Ruinas.
Thank you for taking time from your much deserved break to write this for us.
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