Saturday, May 8, 2010


or more like a change in perspective.

Two thoughts have been bringing me down since I've came here.  One, is that I'll live longer than most my students.  Tanzania's life expectancy is 55.6 years, and my students are 15 years old.  I'm 23, South Korea's life expectancy is 79.8 years. Two, is how little result in terms of math education I might create.  A previous Japanese volunteer, Hideki, was a real character.  He was also excellent in Swahili, and quite dedicated to teaching.  His students, however, did terribly in the national exam.  He was actually softly but openly reprimanded by the Headmistress, which is a real rare treatment for a volunteer. I am only a quarter intense as Hideki was, speak like a 5 year old, and don't have a strong education background. 

I shared these thoughts with my friend Erica, who's a reading tutor and seems to have a similar experience as I do, except that her's is Americanized.  This is what she said:

"...I am pretty sure I'll be living longer than many of my kiddos, as well, or at least I'll have a more comfortable life. And that is depressing as hell. But I do know for a fact, just knowing you, that those kids are lucky to have you as a teacher. Even if you don't speak their language. Having your positive energy in their lives, in whatever form, is so important, especially for under-served kids growing up in such tough conditions. You're doing a wonderful thing, even if it doesn't always feel that way. I tell myself the same thing, actually, because I get pretty down thinking about the future of my kiddos, as well. They're fighting an uphill battle, in so many ways. But here is my answer to your question: What are we delivering? We are creating positive, meaningful human connections with young people who don't have all the opportunities they deserve. Hopefully we even share a little bit of information every now and then. I know we both do have high expectations for them, and when the test scores don't come out the way we want them to, it's disheartening. But that's not the only important part of our jobs. We're doing a good thing by being a part of their lives, just like they're doing a good thing for us by being a part of ours. We shouldn't doubt that we are making a difference, no matter how bad it looks sometimes. Like I said, I have to remind myself of these very same things almost on a daily basis. I know it's hard..."

Cheesy?  No it's not.  It's wonderful.  Absolutely.

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