25 Aug

It’s a Sunday morning here at English Village.  I am listening to Krishna Das on trying my best to sooth my soul.  The sun is shining outside and it is a warm summer day.

This Friday was a benchmark of sorts at English Village.  It was the end of our month of special programming.  The end of the month-long program for middle school students, the end of the visiting programs from Japan and Russia, and the end of the two-week program I was teaching, the Global Leadership Program.

While it was the end of some things, for now there is no break for weary English Village teachers.  In past years we are told there has been a break or slow week following this busy month of special programming.  But not this year.  We return to work on Monday,  the wheels of English Village returning to full spin as we usher in a total of about 500 new students in a handful of different programs.  Recently, we have had a hearty handful of teachers leaving English Village for new opportunities or to return home.  As our staff is depleting, so far our workload is not.

So mostly what it seems I can do for now do is ride this crazy English Village ride and try my best not to lose my balance in the process. Even better, perhaps there is a place to be joyous.  There was a quote I liked on the Art of Living facebook page today.  It said, “Just wake up and see that you are beautiful. The innocence in you is so beautiful.”  What a good reminder! This isn’t a fake pretend to be happy when you’re really upset with the world kind of beauty and joy, but a truth that radiates from within.  I know that place.   It is something that is never lost, but sometimes just needs some extra attention.

The truth is there are many things about English Village that are really great and make it a good place to work.  We teach non-traditional subjects (cooking, media and entertainment, arts and culture) and often create our own content that we teach.  We see a variety of students which keeps things interesting – students from Russia, Japan, Thailand, and all over Korea.  Mostly we teach middle school students, but sometimes we teach elementary students, high school students, university students and even adults.  The variety is appealing to me as I see benefits to teaching all of these age groups.  We have a lot of flexibility and autonomy in the classroom. We don’t have papers to grade.  We don’t have daily lesson plans to create. But sometimes, after a week upon week of riding the English Village wave…truthfully I feel dizzy and I just want to get off.  As said by one of the more senior and respected members of our staff, “You just need a break from those crazy kids.”

The Global Leadership Program that I just completed had its highlights and challenges.  Overall a good group of kids.  They ranged from about age 9 to age 13 with English-speaking skills spanning from virtually no English to good basic English communication.  I worked with three other teachers and we taught curriculum that we outlined and created ourselves. With my interest and experience, I was teaching lessons like leadership, yoga and meditation.  But after last weeks yoga class (see last weeks blog for more about this!), I decided meditation may not be the right thing for this group at the end of a long busy day.  We opted for frisbee instead.  A good choice.

I did teach them a relaxation breathing technique in homeroom class the other day.  Its called alternate nostril breathing.  And that is essentially what it is… using your fingers to cover up alternate nostrils to breath and relax the body and mind.  It’s a great technique and works well.  I am still growing in my confidence in teaching these types of things to moderately interested children and adolescents.  Many of these techniques look a bit strange and I am sure they think I am at least a little weird for teaching them.  I told them this was good to use when you were nervous as they were all going to give a presentation on stage for their parents later that day.  That afternoon when they were standing in line a few of them tried out the breathing technique which makes me think perhaps the lesson wasn’t totally lost. In the end of GLP, one of the students looked up at me wide-eyed and said “Oh, teacher I am sad.  It is the end.  I am sad to leave.  I will come back again next year.”  Little jewels like this help to balance things out.

And for now my Sunday continues.  My plan for the day is to do my best to rest on my own and recharge my batteries before we start rolling for a new week.  And tune into and explore within me that which is joyous.

It seems that summer may be winding down as the day is more often greeted with a cool breeze in the air.  While it is still a bit hot, I am grateful for the heat of the sun penetrating through my body.  Perhaps it comes from all those years spent in the balmy lands of New Orleans.  I am not ready for summer to slip away too soon.

And so with that I will say good-bye for now.  If you like, please share how the final weeks of your summer are rolling.  It’s always good to hear from you!

Image at top, a beautiful bouquet of flowers gifted to me by one of the students (courtesy of their parents) from the Global Leadership Program this week.