"A teacher affects eternity. [She] can never tell where [her] influence stops."
Today I officially started the last term of the 2007-08 academic year. It’s the home stretch for us teachers and students. There are things to look forward to: literacy week, the school play, finals, graduation, and then, the summer holiday. Last night I arrived back in Jakarta at 1 am from my holiday in Thailand and had to wake up four hours later to go to work. (By the way, I attended my brother’s wedding last week, March 15, 2008, and I now have a beautiful sister-in-law.) All teachers seemed to benefit from the spring break. Everybody smiled and greeted me with a warm welcome back. We agree that a week off was short, but we are still in good spirit because summer is near.
Today I got to rehearse a couple monologues with my students—Bea, Patrick, and Ella-- to prepare them for the characterization contest. One monologue was by Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The other was the famous “All the World’s a Stage” by Jaques from As You Like It. I thank Mr. Shakespeare for his works that have enlighten and tickled the fancy and possibly puzzled the minds of students of literature for centuries.
Today two of my students, Johnathan and Maria, brought me gifts for Easter. John is a troubled kid who doesn’t seem to care one bit about his academic achievements, and many teachers like to roll their eyes when talking about him. But the kid is brilliant in music, loves to crack jokes and usually is the life of the party like when we went on a field trip for instance. I’m a firm believer that academic excellence isn’t the be-all and end-all. We had a verbal spat in class once, and he could be hyperactive one day and extremely lethargic the next, but through it all, I see him as a kid with a good heart who’s starving for love and attention. John told his class advisor that he likes me, and that means a lot. Then there is Maria who doesn’t seem to have any friend. She talks to me more than any of her classmates. I think I’m her only friend besides her sister. Once she invited me, and not one of her classmates, to watch a Saturday performance where she played a Chinese musical instrument. In all honesty, I can’t stand traditional Chinese music, but I had to go. The next day I told her that I was there, and I saw a hugh smile splashed across her face before she shied away.
Today I watched Patch Adams with my ninth grade class. The dismissal bell rang at the end of the day, but all their eyes, including mine, were still glued to the movie. Some students held up their four fingers and tried to see beyond what was in front of them. Hunter Adams fought to love his patients despite the strict rules and regulations; and in the same way, I have to fight to love my students. God has revealed something beautiful about each one of my kids, and I’ve definitely grown attached to them. I’m going to miss them so much when I leave. I know being a foreigner in Indonesia and dealing with the school bureaucracy have not been easy; but at the end of the day, my students are worth fighting for. I wrote in an earlier blog that teaching has taught me to think about others and not myself for once. For once, I learn to suck it up and endure so I can be there for these kids. I hope that I’ll remember this valuable experience and lesson one day when I have my own kids. The idea of happiness can be illusive, but one thing I know is that to sacrifice for others is painful but, at the same time, brings the kind of joy that words cannot describe…