|It is not a prison.|
It might be the coffee, possibly the leftover excitement that I’ve always had from teaching; my heart is racing and my hands excited.
The students aren’t really students. I generally refer to them as “The Girls,” if I have to, but it wasn’t too difficult to memorize 23 names. We eat breakfast together, sometimes in comfortable quiet, most of the time in an uproar of Spanglish. We gather firewood together, play soccer together, kitchen dance reggaeton, haul toilet bucket water from the hill, smoosh compost, we cook together, and saying “Good night” and “Good morning” is almost unnecessary: it's more like "Be right back."
Therefore, it seemed strange at first that the “students” were about my age, and we live together in the middle of forest. I can’t put my finger on why there really isn’t any problem. Maybe it’s because everyone loves to learn, and everyone needs someone to teach. I’m the “expert.” I’m the one responsible for my goals, my methods, my assessments. I am the Controller of Fun, the Shah of Expectations, and the Queen of Keeping It Cool. Somewhere along the way, I picked up this ability: there is no stress related to my job.
There is no stress related to my job! Good Heavens, I think she’s got it. I teach math slowly and with lots of stories and pictures. I teach English with a lot of heavy handed no nonsense “You will absolutely succeed if you listen to everything I say.” My English girls started with nothing, some of them only “Hello.” Now I get chased down after classes to define words, spend dinner talking about spoons, forks and knives, and giving lots of hugs.
And we learn to swim together, and sing American club songs together, and share idioms together, and por lo menos, every day this week I have Birken-flopped away from my classroom with satisfaction. Across the road in the student dorms, I can hear the Freshmen practicing their difficult words: NOT esleeping! Ssssssl-eeeeeee-ppppping. NOT sinking! Th th th th th th inking.
Despite the window made of bars (lovely cross breeze!), and the mice that sometimes run across the floor at night, and the limited supply of paper and even less available copies, you couldn’t even offer to pay me to adore this job. I already do.