Looking Through Rose-Colored Lenses

What is hope? What does it mean to have it? Hope is having faith or believing in something in the long haul that you may or may not see currently. Having hope means believing in the sunshine at the end of the tunnel, although the sun may not be seen at the moment. I have gotten a lot of concerned comments from friends and loved ones based on my last post and I want to clarify a couple of things. Peace Corps, while challenging, is the best decision I’ve ever made. While I may not have wanted to do teaching, I am a better communicator, more open minded and overall a more care-free person in and outside the classroom. I am a better person because of Peace Corps and in the long run, I would owe everything to having been a teacher in Ethiopia for two years. Before coming to Ethiopia, the decisions I made only had an effect on me. Some decisions were purely selfish and done in the best intention for me. I was the most important person to consider. Now, I am responsible for educating 100 individuals and these lives are being shaped by what I teach; some more than others. I am responsible for teaching grade 9 and grade 11 the necessary material and if they fail, then I fail. I am also responsible for providing positive criticism to my teachers and bringing different teaching methodologies to the classrooms. Being in Ethiopia is no longer about just me. What I do and how I do it matters and even more so in Chiri, Ethiopia. Therefore, what I do when I finish my two years in Ethiopia matters more. As a continuous assessment, I decided to do something drastic because sometimes drastic change is necessary. During mid-exams week, I had my 11th grade students sign up either before or after exams for four days and we would have 10 minutes to discuss in English various topics. Not all students showed up but the majority came at their scheduled time. One of the questions worth mentioning is “who is your favorite teacher both in primary and secondary school? Then, tell me why.” I was surprised at how many students said that I was their favorite teacher and when they responded as to why, they all had different comments. “It’s the way you let us practice English. It’s the way you’re preparing us for our 12th grade national exams. It’s because you challenge us by giving us Word-Of-The-Day (a new vocabulary word with a sentence and they have to use context clues to figure out the meaning.) It’s because you let us act silly and you’re silly with us in class. It’s the way you make your class fun. It’s your teaching style that makes you special. I really like the way you teach and I feel like I’m learning a lot.” I was touched with each response and it was hard not to get emotional as students mentioned their reasons. It was even sweeter when I mentioned to one of my male students that I don’t teach 10th or 12th grade because I cannot be responsible for national exams so therefore he would have a new English teacher next year and he looked sad for a little bit. capture5 What is hope? I sit on the porch watching the rain and seeing the sun peek through thin blankets of clouds thinking on the answer. As I come up with an answer, I realize the most important part. Not only am I learning from this wonderful country, but the people in it are learning from me. People are being affected by the things I am and am not doing. People are learning and craving to improve their English. People are getting a thirst for the English language. And by seeing this change, I am hopeful that their learning will continue long after I am gone. After all, isn’t that what having hope is about?

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