This past weekend, all that love and affection, all that desire to have fun, really paid dividends. Well, that plus two months of seriously intense planning by myself and my Thai co-teacher, supplemented by heaps of help from Win. Thanks to all that preparation and hard work, we were able to give our students the most colorful English Day Camp you’ll ever see! 1, 2, 3, YAY!
Choosing to make the only goals those of a) having fun and b) playing games in English, we went all out. Basically, we gave 250 first, second, and third grade students an animal-themed English carnival day. They got different colored shirts and bags, nametags and pencil cases, ridiculous animal-shaped snacks, spaghetti for lunch, and a parade just for the school. Each foreign teacher planned one games, through which the students would cycle, while being bombarded with intense, joyful, loving energy.
They tossed balls, popped balloons, made masks, drew, spun roulette wheels, fished, acted, sang, spelled, and balloon animal-ed their way through the most absurdly exhausting day ever. And, damn, if all that planning, exhaustion, frustration, and difficulty wasn’t completely and totally worth it. The pure joy radiating out of their little faces made all the hard work seem like nothing.
This might be what people mean when they say ‘maternal instinct.’ That is, if that maternal instinct rolled around a color wheel and ended up with screaming, enthusiastic games, giant smiles, and lots of English. If ‘maternal instinct’ means never having to apologize for wearing yellow and orange leopard print leggings paired with a yellow t-shirt and yellow and orange feather earrings. Well, and if ‘maternal instinct’ includes the desire to avoid seeing any children for at least 48 hours after spending 8 hours straight entertaining them.
As an addendum of sorts, I have since learned that the day of our English Camp, September 21, is World Gratitude Day. Personally, this feels fitting in a way. It’s not always easy to teach such small children, especially when they don’t speak your language – sometimes it requires an immense amount of work, time, patience, and equanimity – but it is worth the effort to be able to help these children grow and flourish. The laughter and smiles are truly a gift that fills my life with immeasurable joy.
I am incredibly grateful for all the wonderful blessings that have allowed me to becoming a teacher of young learners. And I am grateful for the students themselves; they help me to see when I am taking myself too seriously, they help me to tap into the creative parts of my brain, they let me use my imagination and act like a complete fool, they are forgiving and loving and constantly remind me that the world is a big, beautiful, amazing place. And all this without even being able to speak the same language.