Tuesday, November 30, 2010

To teach is to learn twice. ~Joseph Joubert, Pensées, 1842

I know it may sound kind of strange to some of you, but, until recently, I have never considered being a teacher. Well, yeah, when I was a kid, but not seriously. I originally decided to study Spanish and International Studies, with minors in French and German, to be able to market myself well to foreign relief services. I have always enjoyed helping people, so I figured this would be the best way to do it. This option is still not out of my mind. However, I have noticed a trend recently. Wherever I go, literally wherever, Spain, Germany, Mexico, Italy, God has given me opportunities to teach. It doesn't have to be in a classroom atmosphere. For example, in Mexico, I sprained my ankle the second to last day that we were in the village of La Morita, putting in the foundations for a church. I couldn't do much to help, so what I did do was have the local children teach me words in Spanish, and I would say what they were in English. We all had a great time. I think the kids were just thrilled that, this time, THEY were the teachers. Sometimes, I think that is the best way to teach. Have the children teach you, since they will, in turn, learn the subject matter better themselves. Plus, the teacher always ends up learning something too.

Here in Spain, I have 2 students. Henar is 12, and Teresa is 9. They both come from different families and have different interests. Henar loves music, plays the contra bass (kind of like a cello), and loves teaching me card games. Teresa, on the other hand, is a little shy, but loves sports, math, science, and loves to smile. I gave her some of those snapz bracelets that are all the craze now, and her face literally lit up. Especially once I told her they were from the States. Teresa's mom tells me that she just adores me. I seriously don't know why. I just go, do my job, and enjoy it.

Their respective families have been so welcoming to me as well. Teresa's family has invited me to eat with them once a week; one meal to speak in Spanish, and the next week's meal to speak in English. They have both invited me to do things with them for Christmas, and talk about sending me packages once I get back to the States. I joke that I have three families here: my host family, Henar's family, and Teresa's family. I am totally okay with that. I think it helps me learn more of the culture, of cooking, of the language, and of the dynamic of families in different cultures.

So I teach Henar twice a week (usually) and Teresa once a week. Then I also go to her family's house for supper one night a week. On top of all that, and my own classes, I go to an elementary school once a week. It is the school of my host mother's niece, Maria, who is 8. I speak a half an hour in one classroom, and then speak another half an hour in a another classroom. Well, I don't really speak, as the children as me questions. A few of my favorites include:

"What is your favorite sport?" (I'm not a sports person)

"What is your favorite food?" (So hard to decide...)

"Have you met Justin Bieber?" (No.)

"Have you met so-and-so from the Lakers?" (No. I have to explain that America is very big so it is difficult to meet everyone)

"What is your favorite Spanish soccer team?" (I have to explain that soccer isn't as big a deal in the States as it is here)

The most popular one? "Do you have a boyfriend?"

These are all from 4th and 5th graders. I walk out smiling after every class, just because I get so happy just being around the children and teaching them words. They love the fact I have a bearded dragon, that I have traveled, and that I love the LEGO video games.

Today, when I went, there was a miscommunication. The teachers thought that I was in Germany. So the kids didn't know I was coming.

I felt like a rock star. "DOKIA! HOLA DOKIA!!"

Made me feel really special. I needed that too, since I have had a problem with a professor here. But that is a whole other story. Maybe next blog post.

Anyway, two girls in one of the classes found out I actually do speak Spanish. (Previously, the teachers had told their students that I don't understand Spanish, so they have to speak English). I told them it is a secret though. Just between me and them. Their faces just lit up. A secret with the teacher! How special are we!

So I think God is showing me that maybe I am supposed to be a teacher. What do you think?


  1. That's so cute! Your stories make me miss my little estudiantes in Spain. I'd say teaching sounds so natural for you, not like work at all! If it's something you enjoy, then do it with all your heart!
    The teachers in Spain told their students that I don't speak Spanish either; that secret didn't last long. The kindergarten teacher that I helped was a good-looking guy close to my age. One day we had an interview session where the students could ask me questions in English or Spanish, and I answered in English. And of course they just had to ask, "Te gusta el teacher?!?" The class burst out laughing. It was so embarrassing, plus the teacher was videotaping the whole thing. I sheepishly responded, "Yeah, as a friend.." which isn't necessarily a good answer to that question because 'gustar' in this context doesn't translate well to English as 'to like as friends'. Hope that makes sense. Oh, how precious young learners are!

  2. So what is the answer to the most popular question!?