"I saw the eagerness. I saw the hope. And I looked it in the eyes."
Today's blog comes from Allison, an apprentice in Thailand -
Over the past couple of months, I have been teaching at three youth homes fairly consistently. Each home is very different, in terms of atmosphere, students, structure, and location. (If you would like to learn more about what a youth home is, I would encourage you to watch this short video explaining what a youth home is and a little bit about how PYF supports and partners with these youth homes.)
The first day I arrived at a new youth home to teach, I was expecting to teach English to 5-10 older students, maybe fine-tuning their pronunciation, maybe some grammar. I said my greetings in Thai to the staff, walked through the room doors, and didn't pick my jaw back up off the floor until 35 students, ranging all different ages, were sitting in front of me, staring up at me, ready and eager to learn. I talk about flexibility all the time, but not until I was standing in front of 35 multi-aged students with a lesson plan for roughly seven high school students, did I feel completely bombarded by the term. I put on a smile and cried out to God inside my head. Despite the chaos, my heart calmed and my teacher heart rejoiced in teaching so authentically, so off the cuff, so completely inspired by the moment, that I thanked God for the surprise students, the surprise age range, and the steadiness that came from turning from my own plans to His better plans.
But not everything feels so divine the second, third, and fourth time you do it. On a particularly hard night at this home, when I felt like some of the students didn't want to make an effort to learn at all, I found myself completely lost in despair, for my own skills must not be good enough. As I finished teaching and began to pack up my things, one of our staff members who comes with me to teach said that some of the older girls were asking how long I was going to be in Thailand. I told the girls I was going to be here for one year. In a moment that completely baffled me, one of the girls said (in Thai), â€œWe want you to come back." I shuffled out of the room, but on my moto-ride home, it felt like the air was knocked out of me as I prayed. I saw the eagerness. I saw the hope. And I looked it in the eyes.
When I think of why I'm here and what I'm doing, I now think of these girls. I think of the hope I can give these students by teaching them English, the value I place on them when I continue to return week after week, and the eagerness they display, even when I'm completely blind to it.