Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Teaching Life

I have a student who just won the Australian math contest. I have a student who lives in her own apartment in Sofia, as a 10th grader, so she can go to the American College; she appreciates the quiet away from the dorm so she can study more effectively. I have a student who has won national level triathlon competitions. One who collaborates to write Scifi stories with a friend living a couple hundred miles away. One who loves P.G. Wodehouse books, which, if you have not read them, satirize the English gentility of the early 20th century. One who has danced traditional Balkan dances for more than a decade, another who is serious about ballroom dance, another who plans to pursue opera study in Italy when she graduates. Every member of one of my tenth grade classes has visited at least five countries already at sixteen. Another class has a Katerina, a Kala, a Kalina, a Kali, a Ralitsa, and an Elitsa. (Don't worry, I'm getting it down). About half my students seem to appear at least once a week at their tables with Onda coffees in hand - vanilla dream, cinnamon sunset, perhaps frosty mint cappuccino. They are mature. They are committed to their own education and the opportunities it will give them. They like coffee. 

I have students who have decided to return, after further education, to Bulgaria - to buoy its society and infrastructure with their knowledge and enthusiasm. Also students who believe they can discover their vocation elsewhere, but will always stay connected to their culture, though they are in the minority amongst my seniors in "Conversation class."  

One of my students brought a box of chocolates to share with her classmates on the first day. She is a serious creative writer who hopes I will help sponsor a literary magazine at the college. 

There are some things about ACS that can be a little frustrating, but as I sat in my classroom today with Roxanne's miniature space heater blow drying my feet and an Onda vanilla chai latte warming first one hand and then the other, searching for interesting projects to tempt my 10th graders into outside reading, I felt a pleasant sense of belonging. My students are worth making adjustments to a new and sometimes strange system. They are even worth the cold. Always assuming the government flips the switch by Thanksgiving; I don't think I'd like teaching as much in a snowsuit - it very nearly ruined trick-or-treating, back in the day. No one could see my tutu... 

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