In my student teaching placements I printed as much as I wanted, had access to whatever books I needed and had every manipulative and game a teacher could imagine; but this is Cambodia, and teaching here is an entirely different story. I have to be innovative and work with what I have. It's a challenge and I love it, but this week I let myself become frustrated.I became discouraged that the only games my classroom has are ones I made from egg cartons and recycled cereal boxes. Instead of being thankful for all the amazing books I have, I thought about all the books that I would love for my students to have. After dwelling on everything that I didn't have, I felt despite the heart and soul I put into my job, it just wasn't enough.
So what would any girl do in such a situation? Why of course I wrote a tearful letter home to my mother. My first publicly shed tears in Cambodia, yes... I complained to my mom, a veteran teacher, that I had no clue what I was doing and that I felt I was failing my students. True to her nature, my mom wrote a very encouraging, "stop feeling sorry for yourself" letter. She told me that whenever I feel discouraged to look into the faces of my students, because they are the reasons I am teaching; of course, she was right. Just today I had a St. Patrick's Day lesson planned. We were going to cut out clovers and talk about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The craft didn't even get started because the children were so interested in the trinity and asking questions about going to heaven. For the next 45 minutes, our mixed group of Buddhists, atheists, and Christians talked about Jesus' love and what it means in our lives. As I sat on my plastic chair looking at the precious faces before me, I was once again filled with the purpose of why I came to teach in this country in the first place. Fears over my own inadequacies fell away in light of the fact that God is setting eternity in the hearts of my students.
I hope that you too will be encouraged, as I am every day, by these joyful faces :)