Over the past year I have had many reasons to smile. Yet today was probably one of the most memorable reasons to smile this entire year of adventure and work free lifestyle. The strangest thing is that this smile spreads across my face uncontrollably and it’s due to the work that I’m doing here. Who knew that work could make me smile?! I only have two days left with my students in Delhi, and I’m trying to savor every moment I can. I honestly don’t want to leave them – but I know that they will be left in good hands as a new volunteer will be placed there. The good news is that he (the new volunteer) is actually a teacher…a real teacher…not an imposter like me! This still doesn’t change the fact that I’d love to take my students home with me and find them jobs…but I don’t think US Customs would allow that. So instead, I have spent my last few evenings putting together a detailed report about the kids, their studies and what to continue with in my absence….I’m basically having trouble letting go – but tomorrow at 5PM – I’m done…I have to cut the cord.
Last week I asked the students what they wanted me to focus on for the last week of class, and the majority wanted to learn more about business interviewing. This was right up my alley…I used to hire and fire people all of the time. Rarely did a week go by that I wasn’t interviewing someone at Coach. This was going to be much easier than trying to teach irregular verbs! However – we still did focus on grammar every day, and we would use the 2nd half of class to talk about how to prepare for, and participate in an interview. As a ‘final’ of sorts, I even organized one of my flatmates, Cate, who used to work in HR to come to my class and conduct ‘mock’ interviews for the students. This would give the students a chance to really practice what they learned on a complete stranger. Over the past 3 weeks they had become pretty comfortable with me, however – speaking to strangers in English…well, that seemed to throw them into a downward spiral of panic! I tried to imagine how I would react if someone had told me that I had to be interviewed in Italian…I too would have had a melt down!
I had 5 of the boys from my class volunteer to participate in an interview with Cate. I provided them a list of 5 possible interview questions and said that Cate would pick 3 of the 5 to ask them. I felt like I needed to give them some guidance else it would be too difficult. I had them practice their answers to these questions by writing essays for me for the last week. This way they had put some forethought into their responses.
I showed up at the Learning Center today and all 5 of them were there early (this never normally happened!), all dressed up in their best clothes, cleaned up, pacing around, practicing their interview answers, and attempting to put on their ties if they happened to have one. The moment I saw this – a huge grin formed across my face. The kind that actually makes your face hurt because you are smiling so hard. I was so proud of these kids, and the fact that they had all actually listened to me made me beam with happiness. I had them draw numbers from a hat to see who would go first – I think I was as nervous as they were for some reason. As they looked at their numbers some were filled with excitement and some were filled with terror. Poor Rohit looked terrified that he was going first!
One of the most touching things to me was when one of them finished their interview, they would come into the room where I was with the rest of the class, they would look relieved that it was over, and then they would trade shoes with the next interviewee as only a few of them had proper ‘business’ shoes as they normally all wear sandals. As I saw them switch shoes and sandals – it made me want to do absolutely anything I could to help them in their lives going forward, I want success for them so badly.
I’m not really sure how I will get through tomorrow without a bunch of tears. This whole experience has been life changing for me – not because I feel like I changed the world – but simply because it has helped me realize how much I enjoy working with young adults and how much I enjoy teaching. Granted – this was a unique experience – one in which all of the students were eager to learn – an experience where a little effort goes a long way in these kids’ lives. However I have to believe that there are opportunities like this all over the world…so who knows what will come of this…time will tell.
To top things off, yesterday was Teacher’s Day here in India. I tried to explain to the kids that I’m not really a teacher, but they either didn’t understand me or pretended not to understand. Some of them came bearing little individual roses…leaving me with a better feeling than any boyfriend has ever left me with! Tomorrow on our last day we are going to simply have fun – listen to music, watch a movie and eat chocolate…everyone knows that the last day of school is always fluff! However this will be the first time I’ve had a last day of school be so sad.