Disclaimer: The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.
A few brief paragraphs cannot possibly express the extent of my gratitude towards my grade seven learners for an incredible (and challenging) year together. But after everything, my unexplained absence in term two, my raising my voice more than a few times, and a canceled farewell, these kids continue to demonstrate joy and appreciation for the small things. They celebrate the end of exams and by extent the end of primary school by scrawling on the chalkboard #pensdown #robapen (break pen) and quite literally dancing to the beat of their own drums as they pound their hands on the tables.
One of my favorite parts of the end of the school year was always getting my yearbook signed by my teachers. Getting someone I admired to commemorate that year with a special note put a smile on my face, and these notes in my yearbook continue to be treasures that I cherish when I need a bit of motivation. Although my learners don’t have expensive yearbooks to sign, I adapted this tradition with the use of a pen, markers and a sheet of A4 paper. I wrote 62 unique letters, hoping to convey even a tiny piece of the love that I share with all of them (even the troublemakers).
When the kids finished writing their history paper they were eager to run home, no longer primary school students, but at my behest they stuck around for another 10 minutes and a brief reflection on the year. Their reaction to personal letters was beyond anything I could have imagined, pushing me to the brink of joyous tears; my heart so full there was nowhere for it to spill but back into the universe.
We shoved our way outside where the kids hammed it up for the camera, asked for my number (a decision I may or may not regret…), and gave me some of the best hugs ever.
This year was never about me. This job was never about me. The exhausting work I do is for these kids, to bring them a sense of confidence and for them to know that someone believes in them despite their circumstances. My students remind me daily that it is not through grand gestures that cost thousands of dollars that we impact each other but through our small actions that we effect change.
Some of my learners may never finish high school, some may go work on the farms, some may become pregnant as teenagers, some may go on to vocational colleges or even university, but hopefully all of them remember that they once had a teacher from America who laughed at herself and believed that they could all achieve anything they put their minds to.