I have a student who speaks no English. I was excited to hear I would get to teach English...I have an understanding with God that I am learning Spanish. He heeded my prayer and my student speaks Chinese! (Thankfully, I also have another student in the room who speaks Spanish and will talk with me!)
This new student has a younger sibling in my friend's class. I had cards made and had picked up a few new words. Who knew the Chinese language is based on tones? Four tones and one word equals four different words. I have no clue what I am doing.
As my students walked in and I greeted them, one girl handed me a notebook. I noticed she had no backpack with her. I had had her brother last year. He came at the end of the school year with a month to go. Apparently, this was her first day and her last. She supposedly is going to be going to another school tomorrow. Why did her parents enroll her for a day? I don't know (insert many ideas I am not going to write).
We had our fire, lockdown, and tornado drills today. Try explaining that in Chinese. My student had to think we were weird. She didn't eat lunch...pizza and corn...who wouldn't eat that? Probably too American...I felt horrible. I took her to the room and tried to get her to eat some of my food. Nope. We took her out to recess and then when the younger kids had come in, her sibling hadn't. Off I went to look for her with my Chinese dictionaries. We found her...playing with her sister at recess. I guess I'll have to explain somehow that the younger sibling has to go in earlier than her sister.
Back in my room, I grabbed my cottage cheese and pears (yum) and started to eat. Oh...my class walked in. They got to watch me eat for just a bit and then I shared First Day Jitters with them. I sent them back to their desks for our math meeting and noticed that my first day/last day girl wasn't joining us in our Hokey Pokey (learning left and right). I knew that last year when she had come, she had had trouble at first choosing to do what the teacher asked. I was not going to allow her to do this and calmly told her she had two choices: look at me or I was going to call the office. I gave her time. Then I told her to look at me and she again refused. I counted to five and told her I was going to call the office. I counted...she didn't budge. I followed through and called. They sent someone down and she refused them. Two administrators later, they finally got through to her.
However, I chose to take my class out because I wanted to also protect her dignity and honor. We went on a tour of the school and then I got the bright idea to go practice our names with the tennis balls (throw and say their name - you've got to see the kids throw...not a lot of hand-eye coordination). As we are throwing the balls, I see a boy turn around and lose his lunch. I moved the other kids away and stay with him as he's getting sick.
It was then during their second recess that I realize after looking in my lunch box, I hadn't eaten my lentil salad with chicken...oh well.
Fast forward to the end of the day...I see a little girl standing in the grassy area between the busses and the cars for parent pick-up. I know she doesn't speak a lot of English...I GET TO USE MY SPANISH...oh be still my heart! I asked her (in Spanish), "Where are you going?" And I understood her!!! Her uncle was coming to get her. Through a few more conversations and a few parents nearby who also helped with my questions (they spoke Spanish), we found her uncle.
In other's eyes, today might have been a bad day. However, I prayed over my kids, the room, and their desks. I pray that I get to be a beacon of light for them. I pray that they learn a little more about God's love and forgiveness through me.
When the class gets excited because our little girl said someone's name, a smile shows up. When a child (who struggles academically) tells you at the end of the day that you're the best, there's something inside you that burns just a bit brighter. When past students hug you on the way out to the bus, you know that God has placed you where you are to be His skin.
I'm excited for what this year holds...