Thursday, March 10, 2016

Constantly learning

Since my last post, quite a bit has happened so I'll do a quick update:

I ended my internship at the gallery/cultural centre that I was working at. It's been a wonderful, eye-opening experience and I'm glad I took the chance to step out of my comfort zone and try something different from the regular arts scene in Singapore and the internship has allowed me a closer look into the world of cultural diplomacy.

I took up a part-time teaching stint (soon after the Chinese New Year break) as a Speech and Drama instructor for several primary schools. Possibly one of the most fulfilling jobs I have ever done in my life. I'll be ready to admit that it's not easy at all - it wrecks my throat having to raise my voice over a class of 30 hyperactive eight-year-olds, and I am so exhausted by the time my teaching day ends at noon. There are a ton of lesson plans to follow and sometimes I get the schools mixed up. Most of the time I don't think I'm brilliant at what I do; sometimes my patience gets tested, and every so often it pains my heart to have to scold a child or be very firm with them, though I have learnt that young, pure hearts are quick to forgive. I see them at the school canteen the following week, and they run up to me calling my name. They start telling me stories about who they've had recess with, or that they swopped their sandwiches with each other, or that their mothers took them out to see a movie the previous day, that they fell down while playing after school and had a bleeding knee.... and my heart melts. My heart melts when they share the little - sometimes mundane - details of their everyday lives with me, because it makes me feel like I am a part of their lives, as much as they have become a part of mine.

I've seen several full-time teachers whose jobs have worn them down considerably. Week after week I enter their classrooms, and I see them yelling at the kids with increasing frustration and resignation and it's an awful feeling to see it from an outsider's point of view. I don't blame them at all, because having a continuous succession of bad days at work, and having to face a class of students who are the constant source of your frustration is an undoubtedly Sisyphean task. Ever since I began teaching, I've started to remember all the teachers and educators that have ever played a role in my life and I'm thankful for each and every one of them for not giving up on their students, and most importantly, for not giving up on themselves.

It is their strength that encourages me to continue learning from my job.

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