It is definitely fair to say that the school year is officially underway! Teachers have been in preparation for the last two weeks, and the students arrive for their first day on Friday. I have to say, it’s exciting but also a little overwhelming! For those in teaching, you’ll understand what I mean when I say I have four classes, and four preps! I will be teaching seventh grade geography and all of the high school English classes except for tenth grade. Our first term- that is the academic year leading up to Christmas, has sixteen weeks, and I have so much material to squish into it! My world geography curriculum has a total of twenty-three chapters. Imagine trying to teach Europe and Russia in a week! Fortunately, I have great friends and resources all over the world, and I’m sure that I’ll figure something out. The English classes should be a blast. I’m beyond excited to teach Jane Eyre to an international group of students, especially in a Christian setting where we can examine Jane’s relationship with God, which if you think about it, drives a lot of the novel’s later action.
I have also been having meetings with the Hon. Reverend Can. Dr. Hamlet, who is not only a spiritual advisor to me and a dear friend to my family, but is also instrumental in the library project. I am so excited to see literacy in Kanungu (my village) move forward! I dream of the ones who are young now being able to apply to university anywhere they want in the world. These kids could go to Harvard or University of Pennsylvania- if they had the early education that they so deserve.
Primary School Students in Kanungu District
As surrounded as I have been with fellowship and community, I have also enjoyed the quiet time to examine my new life and the true miracle that it is. I have told my new friends the story of when I first came to Kanungu- in the summer of 2011 I stood on one of the hills overlooking the whole village and realized with a shock that went through my whole being, that two years ago nearly to the day, I physically could not walk. In 2009 I spent six weeks in hospital, and when I first arrived, the emergency room doctors told my mother to call a priest. No lie. And in the time I spent in those sterile rooms in such pain, I was completely accepting of death. The fact that I am here now, doing something that I love and that is so dear to my heart- teaching- I can’t even describe it to you in words. There have been a few instances in my life that have convinced me that I’m living on gifted/borrowed time- the death of my older brother in 2006 (he was the best of us, and in dark times I still struggle with why,) the death of my dearest friend, and my own illness- sometimes I just can’t believe that I am here. And my family loves me. And my loved ones believe in me. How can that be possible? Not to get overly religious for my non-religious friends and readers; but from this I can only see grace. How else is this possible? When I was ill I remember my mom taking a picture of my swollen and wretched body, and sending it to her friends because she was just so delighted that my broken frame was able to sit up in a chair. How did I get from that to this? It’s a mystery. And a miracle.
My Village Family, plus our friend, Will
My students come on Monday, and I know they come from stories as vast and various as my own. I have been surrounded with such a fine community of people, and I hope to be the positive influence on my students that others have had on me. I read a proverb somewhere (and if anyone can cite it, please let me know,) that said, ‘When a man dies, it is not only him who dies, but the whole library within him.’ I look forward to being a part of the libraries of the people I encounter, as I have loved the attachment of their stories within me.
More next week, when the next adventure begins!