I Will Be Taught

The author serves in Guatemala as an FTF Field Worker. We affectionately call him and others like him sherpas. They help carry the heavy load of poverty by serving the poor and building their best ideas. He is in his 5th month at site; only 19 more to go. 

You want to know what it feels like to be humbled?  Try teaching English grammar to seven year old Guatemalans while only having a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish; it doesn't get much more humiliating than a bunch of children owning you in Spanish.  See,  I've been teaching at the local elementary school as part of my immersionship.  For about four weeks now I've been giving lessons in English. My kids range from kindergarten to the 6th grade.  It has truly been an embarrassing and exhausting learning experience, but also one of the most enlightening parts of my work thus far.

Teaching in a foreign place is destroying my concept of what “normal” education should look like.  It's imbuing me with a greater sense of patience (while paradoxically driving me closer to insanity).  And of course, as you teachers out there know, I am daily given a most wonderful reminder: Joy has something to do with becoming again like these children. I mean they are so so accepting of me, this weird tongue-tied gringo! And how much more in tune with Guatemala am I becoming as I build relationships with these mountain kids?  With their culture?  With their K'iche language?!  

For the first three weeks I was convinced I was the teacher, but writing this I realize that I will be taught.

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