Another day at the office; for my level 6 students I had them debating gay marriage
I chose a provocative subject to get them engaged but also as a teacher I have a moral obligation to teach social acceptance – especially in rural Cambodia where they will ultimately go on to work in more diverse environments.
The focus, despite the subject was learning to structure a debate. To present, to provide examples, body language, tone – you get the idea. My actual ‘structure’ template was prepared on my laptop for the projection. The notes on the board accumulated with their arguments and applying some techniques.
My lower levels are learning about tenses and learning to gather information from each other, how to present it and write it correctly.
All the levels are very quick to learn, enthusiastic and they really concentrate. They ask when they don’t understand something. They have a go at guessing or thinking out loud. It feels me with immense pride and inspiration.
Today I am feeling very tired. I am working so hard to teach the basics of English, always observing the students, encouraging, supporting. I come back to the guesthouse where I speak with the staff and support and encourage their language.
My brain is thinking about the times, the lesson plans, reviewing what I did, any pending issues, any logistical issues that I would have taken for granted at home.
My heart wanders periodically to my family back home. A gaping wound that conjours emotions of deep sadness, loneliness, confusion, isolation and fear. I try not to focus on that. I try to live for each day. I let my students fill my heart with mutual respect, I let the country and its unique life wrap itself around me and I let the Mekong take my bad feelings.
I’m looking forward to Friday evening when I don’t have to think. When I don’t have to consider my language. When I can wander around at leisure.
I will be refreshed and recharged for school.
I take something from each day. A smell, a scene, a sound.
I’m forced to confront and manage my fears, with frequent power cuts plunging me into darkness, the complete reliance on my own strength and decision making.
This morning I was half awake and thought my husband was next to me. I went to reach out for his warmth and his familiar body. I felt so sad as I woke and I realised he would never think of me like that again. He wouldn’t let me seek out his embrace, his comfort.
I am gaining and losing in equal measures.
I will continue to take each day as it comes. To embrace this life and experience.
My future seems bleak; so i will not think about it. My energy is for helping my students have a good, secure future.