It has been a while since I updated this blog. In part because I had not felt compelled to write anything down on here, rather I started what I call my “gratitude journal” and my “thoughts journal”. Both of these journals have been vital in keeping all my personal thoughts handy and a short distance from my sleeping area. However, I have reached yet another epic milestone, the end of my third semester. This one was the hardest semester thus far because I had tougher students to work with coupled with personal issues.
This semester brought me some of the lowest English level students I have ever taught. Although for the most part they all give their best efforts, I was met with students who were unmotivated and uninterested in English as a whole. Even though I had dealt with those type of students last year, these were particularly harder to deal with because they were very outspoken. One class in particular was the toughest to work with but I can sit here and say that I did not give up on them. Despite moments of complete disappointment I gave it my best shot and was able to work with them to the point where we had a mutual understanding. It was a sort of compromise where they did what was expected of them and in turn I was a little more lenient on them. Not to say that I turned a blind eye and allowed them to do as they pleased because that will ruin the classroom atmosphere but I was happy with the end result.
I am fortunate enough to be teaching all of the same classes next semester and although they were a little tougher I am looking forward to them. The challenges faced this semester, although difficult have been the most rewarding. It just comes to show that if you don’t give up and keep a positive mindset things will work out at the end.
There were moments where it was difficult to keep an optimistic attitude, in part because I decided to take a new approach on the way I deal with problems. I used to bottle them up and tried to find any possible way of distracting myself from the reality of the issue because in my mind, if I was not thinking about it then I would not have to deal with it. It was a way of buying myself time to something I refused to face. Oh, how foolish of me but I guess it is part of growing up. This time around I decided to take every situation head on and truly feel every emotion and appreciate what it was. Even when it was terribly displeasing because it takes those terrible situations to really appreciate the good moments. Also, there is no resentment and I feel better about myself and where I stand as an individual without having to find ways to avoid any issue.
Overall, the challenges faced were also met with wonderful moments shared with students that make this whole experience completely worth it. Even the smallest of gestures goes a long way. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Christmas and New Year festivities at my school. In total I performed three times. For the first, I played guitar and sang “A beautiful mess” by Jason Mraz. I was so nervous that my palms got sweaty and my mouth went dry. In my mind the panic button had gone on but rather than freak out I sat down, looked at the crowd and just played. Part of that moment does not exist in my memory, rather small fragments and clapping at the end. I assume it went well, although a room full of Chinese students is no way of assessing any situation.
The second consisted of me singing Christmas songs, playing guitar and a failed attempt at getting everyone to clap in sync with the rhythm of a song. In other words, I was making a fool out of myself but in the process people were laughing which is all that really matters. The last one was with one of my good students from last year who is a good friend of mine. He wanted to sing a song together because it was going to be my last new years in China. Of course, I obliged and he picked the song and we did it. It turned out to be a great bonding moment. Quite possibly something that I will never experience again but definitely appreciative that I at least had the opportunity to be a part of it. These are the moments that I mean when I say its the little things.
I had moments where students would randomly give me a letter they wrote thanking me for being their teacher or saying how much they liked my class. I even had a student give me a picture of myself he drew by hand, borderline odd but nonetheless I appreciate the fact that he sat somewhere for a few hours and drew me. I am not sure if they understand the impact that these moments have had on me, but I can only hope that I have impacted them in one way or another.
As I reflect on this past semester I am also thinking of the next and how quickly time has passed. In a way I feel like I have just arrived into this strange land and am now beginning to understand it. On the other hand, I am on the last six months of my second year and reality is slowly setting in. There are so many question marks as to what the future holds but I refuse to get distracted from what is in front of me and this very moment that I am living. I am pretty good at not worrying about things that I have no control over and the future is one of those. I am fine with not knowing because that only adds to the excitement. Wherever I end up I am sure I will be happy because I carry that with me wherever I go.
Before I get way too ahead of myself, here is to another year that will carry its own set of challenges, experiences and opportunities to grow. I look forward to everything that will come this year and know that everything that happens will be for a particular reason even if it is not readily apparent. For now I will stay mindful and enjoy this life that I have been so fortunate to live and share with others. Until next time…
Capture the beauty of time shared together, and note the valuable life lessons learned.
Be thankful for having experienced love, and know that you are a better person because of it.
—The Power of Now
After a few months of recluse in preparation for the GRE with moments of leisure here and there I finally started my fall 2013 semester today! It was quite the day filled with both new and old faces. I was excited to be back in the classroom and meet my new students. It is crazy how time flies, I can’t believe it has already been past the year mark. I can only hope that this year brings as many learning experiences as the last one did.
In addition to getting things started in the classroom, I am also getting started with grad applications which involves so much tedious work. However, I guess its just like applying to Peace Corps minus the medical check up, so here we go again for round two. Although I don’t have any clue where I will living next year, let alone which grad program I will be accepted to I need to keep myself grounded and reminded that I need to live in the present and enjoy what I got this very moment. Most importantly, I need to keep my students in mind and never cut any corners because after all I am here for them.