I wanted to spend a couple of days at the school just observing and getting a sense of how things work, so that’s how I spent Monday and Tuesday of my first week. On Monday, Andrew and I went to the school assembly in the morning, were welcomed as honored guests, and said a few words of greeting in which I sputtered out some nonsense again. I’m not good at the whole honored guest thing. My goal is to become a normal human as soon as possible so that I can stop being treated like I’m some sort of royalty. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very nice and I appreciate how welcoming everyone is being, but I’m going to be here for two months. At some point, I need to stop being a guest or else everyone is going to get sick of me. I don’t want to feel like a burden!
We spent the morning going around to different classrooms and sitting in the back to observe. I tried to melt into the background so that the kids would stop staring at me like I’m some kind of alien and start paying attention in class, but I’m not a very good chameleon.
After two mornings of this, I went to talk to the school coordinator to try to figure out how I can fit into the school. It’s very hard to get straight answers out of people here. I say, “what do you need help with?” and they say, “what do you want to help with?” NO! That’s not the point. I want to fill in existing holes, not create holes for myself to fill in. Does that make sense? I said, “is there anything that the kids aren’t learning that you think would be helpful?” She said, “you can teach them whatever you want.” AHHH!!
Finally, I squeezed out the information that one of the English teachers has been sick, and no one is teaching her classes. Also, one of the Science teachers has to leave at 11, and no one is teaching his afternoon classes. Perfect. This is exactly what I was looking for. I said that I could definitely take on both of those things, so that’s how I found myself assigned as the English Literature teacher for grades 9 and 10 and the Science teacher for grade 8. This is ideal because without me, they would be learning nothing, and I’m at least better than nothing. Low-pressure situation. I agreed to start teaching on Wednesday… so much for taking a full week to get my bearings! It was good though because then I had a sense of purpose and stopped feeling like such an imposition, taking and taking and giving nothing back. Anyway, she gave me the textbooks and just like that, I was officially a teacher. My qualifications: I’m from a different country and speak English.
Oh yeah, another important thing to note. I’ll tell you more about the school later, but everything there is taught in English (besides the language classes of course. I think they take Bengali and Hindi). Since the students are from such diverse backgrounds and all speak different languages, English was chosen as the school’s official language. That’s good news for me because otherwise, I’d be worthless.
Monday and Tuesday were both very busy! Monday afternoon, there was a women’s prayer meeting with women from all of the churches in Jaigaon. Our church was hosting, so that was nice and convenient for me. I understood approximately zero things that were said, but it was still a cool meeting to be a part of. They prayed for India and for the community and probably some other things too. I prayed silently to myself until I started falling asleep from the warmth and having my eyes closed. Oops. Then I just sat there and willed myself to stay awake.
Tuesday night was another meeting, but this one was a part of a pastor’s conference that was going on. They gave out certifications to the new pastors and then the conference speaker shared a message. The best part? The whole thing was in English because the pastors came from all over, so that’s the common language. The speaker was awesome. His name is Rev. Dr. Ivan Satyavrata, and I’d recommend looking him up if you’re interested! He talked about how our greatest challenge is accepting the call that God puts into our lives. We have to make a decision about who/what owns us. Is it money, comfort, etc or will you give Him your life? It was a good message for me, especially right now where my future is so up in the air! I left feeling so encouraged, both by his words and by the atmosphere created by the people there. The Holy Spirit was definitely filling that room.
The more time I spend here and get to know this community, the more excited I become for the rest of my time in India. I have so much to learn from the people here, especially Pastor Daniel and Ruth. They have an amazing story and amazing faith. This is going to be a good environment for me to keep growing in my faith and in my confidence in general! I can already tell that I’ve made a lot of progress since the beginning of my journey, simply based on the fact that the thought of teaching on my own doesn’t throw me into a total panic anymore. And if they keep putting me on the spot unexpectedly, maybe I’ll even learn to quickly form coherent thoughts instead of just babbling.