Final/Lasting Impressions

My first lasting impression would have to be the educational system here. Teaching in these schools has really shown me what it looks like for an entire classroom to be eager for every new thing you have to teach them and they really truly hang upon your every word. I feel that the flexibility within their schools, such as starting class whenever the teacher shows up and only finishing when the teacher decides they are done, is something that I will never forget. I think this really translates well into our classroom situations too. As a teacher it is important to be flexible because not everything is going to go as planned. We need to be able to shorten lessons and lengthen them when necessary and sometimes fill empty time that we weren’t expecting to have. Also within the schools, the ability to promote learning in such an environment where there are no teaching tools besides the teacher and the blackboard is very humbling. Before this trip I had it in my mind that in every lesson I needed to be incorporating some sort of tool or manipulative but these schools have really taught me how to create more learning with less resources. I feel that this is HUGE within the classroom because there is always the chance that the resources you want to use will somehow become unavailable.

My second lasting impression is the “hakuna matata” lifestyle that the people here live. Everyone is so carefree and, like I said before, living on their own time schedule. The lifestyle here is so calm and truly taking each moment as it comes which is completely the opposite of what I feel like living in America is like. At home everyone is going a million miles and hour and tries to do so much at all times. I know I get stressed out more than I should because I am always overloading myself with things to do. Living here for a month has really taught me to slow down. “Pole pole” as the people here would tell you, meaning “slowly, slowly”. At home, the focus is on getting as much done as you can in the shortest period of time possible but this culture has really taught me that it is okay to do things slowly and not to rush through every moment of my life. I feel that trying to incorporate some of the “hakuna matata” and “pole pole” lifestyle into my daily life in Michigan will really help me to find a greater joy in the things I am doing.

I feel that my biggest lasting impressions would be the change I have seen in myself within the past month. Before this experience I was very shy and typically kept to myself in most situations. I never liked to try new things and stuck to doing things that were within my comfort zone. If you asked me a year or two ago if I would be willing to try and come on this trip I would have decided not to come solely because I wasn’t confident in myself and this would have been something that took me way out of my comfort zone. Making new friends and willingly putting myself in situations with people I don’t know has always been something I have shied away from. This experience has really helped me become vulnerable and open up to new people while trying a LOT of new things! The confidence I have gained in myself from teaching these students is unbelievable and just the love that they have shown me every day has really helped me accept myself for who I am. I am no longer afraid to try new things with people I don’t know and that feeling is extremely empowering and something I will never forget!

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