Position: Teacher – Peruvian Union University
What Does It Mean to Be a Teacher?
“I’m sorry my frien’, but I don’t think it correct,” quickly replied with, “but my frien’, it’s no the correct!..The Bible say…hmmm…the Bible say que, oops!, that…umm…Miz how you say “salud” in English?” And it continued…one student even stood up and with his body leaning over his classmate and with shaking the “speaking” stick spoke strongly, emphasizing his point. Well the best he could in his broken English. Then my focus was brought to the sound of cheering, and one student got up and changed to the other side of the table and therefore changing his opinion. I had to shout over the sound of cheering voices and then calm them down enough to read the next topic then I told them, “If you agree sit on this side and if you disagree sit on the other side.”
You see, I was in the middle of a debate and a heated one at that! I had 26 Theology students that are very opinionated in their views of different topics and therefore making it for a very interesting class!! The students here at the Language Institute in Lima, Peru have to take an oral, writing, midterm and final exam for every quarter and for their oral exams I like to make it a little different to help give them variety, such as debate, and they also have a blast with it!
After the class I head out and begin walking to lunch when I hear; “Teacher!!” My head swings around and I look in the direction of the voice. I smile and give a greeting. As I continue to walk that word echoes in my head, “teacher.” I have been called many things in my life: daughter, sister, friend, cousin, niece, aunt, girlfriend, roommate etc. but never in my life did I ever think I would be called “teacher.” I continued to let my mind wander and I thought, what does it mean to be a teacher? I have had several teachers in my life and I know that I’ll have more. But who were those people to me? Well some were strict, stand-offish people, others quiet and firm but loving, others I would even call my friend!
So, what did my students think of me? What kind of teacher did they categorize me as? Of course my goal was to be a loving but strict teacher, and also I wanted to be their friend. But I was not going to go up to my students and ask them what kind of teacher I was, but sometimes there are little things they did or said that made me feel like I achieved my goal.
There were ways to notice or to hear how I affected my students and one of the best ways was one night in my evening class. My students began asking me if I would be their teacher during the next semester. I then explained to them that I wouldn’t be and actually this was my last semester teaching. They then began to tell me: “No, Miss!! You can’t leave! You have been the best teacher!” “Who else is going to help me learn English?” Then when I reassured them that there were many other teachers who would be their teachers, they calmed down a bit, but only to tell me “But Miss, it won’t be the same!” “Oh Miss, it’s so sad!” Another student quickly pipes up “Miss! We have to have a good-bye party for you!”
A warm feeling flooded into me – mixed with a feeling of sadness! The warm feeling is because I know with GOD’s help I have touched these lives, and in the same way they have touched mine! But the sadness is because I know I may never see them again on this earth. So in the end, this isn’t a sad story! It’s a wonderful story that GOD is helping me write, to help me in my future and my work for HIM!