As a Peace Corps Volunteer (oh yeah, I’m officially a volunteer now…I swore in on Friday. Woo hoo!), it is easy to become overwhelmed and jaded with just about everything. I have been in the midst of practice school for the past 2 weeks and it is absolutely exhausting. I have to be at school by 8:30 in the morning, teach until 11:30, plan until 5:30, and continue to work on typing up lesson plans once I get home until I go to bed around 11:00pm. And then it starts all over the next day. This constant movement and “being around people” business has pushed me to the absolute edge and I have had to take the past few weeks with deep breaths and constant reminders about why I am here.
On top of this, I have had a rough past week because of personal reasons. Other Peace Corps Volunteers know the situations I am referring to so, suffice it to say, my support system over here has been rocked and I have had to do some serious regrouping. These events on top of a crazy training schedule has severely dampened my “Peace Corps Pep and Purpose” and I found myself longing for the familiarity of home more than usual.
For the past week, my partner teacher and I have been working with a 6th form class of students here in my training village of Costesti. By the way, 6th form=6th grade so we have a class of 11 year olds (mostly boys…ughhh…but I digress). Last Thursday was a challenge with our class as they decided to be rowdy and not listen. Once they left for the day, I quite literally slammed my head down on my desk out of frustration and exhaustion. I just wasn’t sure how much more of those days I could take.
And then, today happened.
Our students started their second week of practice school today and, at the beginning of the lesson, my partner and I asked them to share their answers from the homework assigned last class. The prompt we gave them was “If you were king/queen for the day, what would you do?” I had seen this prompt used in American classrooms many a times and I expected the answers my students in Moldova would offer would be similar to those I had seen in America: buy all the things, eat all the food, do whatever I want. You know, I/Me statements. But, yet again, Moldova has surprised me.
Here are the answers that we received from our students:
These are answers given to me by 11 year olds.
11 year olds who do not speak English as their first language.
11 year olds who do not speak English as their first language and whose families live on an average of $150-$200 US dollars A MONTH.
Even as I am writing this blog post, I am overcome with emotion. Emotion that children living in an economically deprived country, when asked to imagine they could do anything for a day, still put the well-being of others above themselves and their desires. Emotion that a vast majority of children (and heck, people in general) in America have no idea just how blessed they are. I have become so disillusioned with the state of humanity in the past few months due to the heinous acts against other human beings occurring at a rapid fire rate in the land of the free. As I see new “Breaking News” blasts come across my Twitter feed, I fear that there might not be a home for me to return to in 2 years. And yet, in the midst of all this hatred and darkness, is an inspiring and motivational light handed to me by my 11 year old students. A light of love. A light of hope. A light of humanity.
And suddenly, I’m not so scared anymore.