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One of the first things I remember about planning to travel the world before I left to do so many years ago was mentally listing all of the things I was afraid of. They were numerous. Would drug smugglers hide illegal stuff in my backpack at the airport unbeknownst to me? Would hand-sized spiders eat me in my sleep? Would I be able to get by without knowing the local language?

Teachers don’t make a lot of money, especially early childhood teachers who, arguably, have a an important job towards creating a harmonious society.

In Hinduism, when a person dies, a year-long mourning period takes effect in which the family does not participate in any celebrations. On the one-year anniversary, Shradda is recognized with a memorial service, in which closure is brought to formal mourning with traditions similar to many other religions: the reading of scriptures and of course, food.

Whenever I’m starting a new training course, which is frequent these days, I always feel a bit daunted. I’m given a stack of fresh new books wrapped in plastic, and as I crack their spines (love it!) and open them up I’m delighted and overwhelmed at the same time. I wonder, how the fuck is all this knowledge going to make its way into my brain, in a month?!

“Leen, Leen!” He yelled my name from across the street, this tiny, frail man dressed in worn, yellowed office clothes a couple sizes too big. His belt was pulled tightly around his thin waist. He was sweet-looking. Not desperate or hungry or tired, just simple and curious, asking for stamps. I saw him the first night I arrived, and he remembered me as “Leen” from Canada.

Where we’re raised shapes who we are. It shapes what sports we play, what we believe in, what we value, what we think we know to be right from wrong, just or unjust. It also shapes our modes of communication and how we learn to cope as social beings; what words we use, what phrases we choose to fit a given moment. Learned language helps us not only be understood but accepted.

So I made it back to India, finally, as I always promised myself I would when I felt ready for it again. And I think I’ve learned that I’m never going to feel quite ready to face a fear. I will always have to push myself towards that oncoming train, into the dark shadows of that forest, or begrudgingly, to my desk to do those taxes. To whatever stimulus scares me.

I’ve met all kinds of people in all kinds of places. One of my favourite places in the world is Chiang Mai. My favourite because I don’t need a point of reference to know that I love it. I’m just free to love it. It doesn’t inspire me to travel to yet unexplored parts, it inspires me to stay. For its spirit but also for solid practical reasons.

I managed to find my third source of employment three days before Trump became president. Why? I knew that if I hadn’t, my family may have starved. I started my new job on January 17. I just made it into the New Year - finally I could exhale. I check the news frequently to see what has Trump has done for me lately - other than upset my people. I think to myself, “Does he know?

Where do we go
When we grow
Tired and old?

Do we turn
To dirt?

Are we bought
Or sold?

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