Every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday night I teach English classes to the people in the congregation and the community. This has quickly become one of my favorite activities here because the classes are so diverse and the kids are absolutely delightful—I now have a new appreciation for teachers’ LOVE of teaching. One very bright and very eager 12-year-old girl saved a spot for me last night and excitedly showed me the notes she had taken during previous lessons. While I was explaining countable and uncountable nouns and when to use ‘some,’ ‘any,’ ‘many,’ ‘much,’ ‘few,’ and ‘little,’ I noticed that her hand was furiously writing notes that she then referred to during the practice exercises we went through as a large group. It was strange—I felt like and actual teacher; kids were actually listening to me, haha! Toward the end of the lesson, when I announced that we would play a game, the excited expressions on the faces of the kids took me back to my junior high days and the excitement that jolted through every kid when the teacher even thought of the word ‘game.’ Learning games are so fun!
Sitting with this group of predominantly 12-year-olds, I was reminded that kids are kids no matter where they are from. There is always the girl who works hard, takes notes, and wants to be best friends with the teacher. There is always the table full of loud boys who crack jokes during the whole lesson. There is the boy who wants to learn but tries to hide it from his friends because it is ‘cooler’ to goof around than it is to learn. There is the boy who NEVER knows what is going on and always asks what question he has to answer when it is his turn. There are the smart, quiet girls in the back corner who really know their stuff and get every question right. Finally, there is the girl who is an absolute whiz but lacks the confidence to speak up.
Even though geographical and cultural differences seem to separate people, it is refreshing to know that no matter where they live, what language they speak, or what cultural traditions they practice, people are people. Of course I know that people are people and should be treated with dignity no matter what their background, but this idea was so apparent to me last night during English class (probably because 12-year-olds have such big personalities) that I couldn’t help but think about how small the world really is. There are positive, negative, radical, laid-back, funny, aloof, lazy, and ambitious people everywhere. This is a comforting thought to me because it shows everyone’s shared humanity and (if we all believe in people’s shared humanity) makes it easier to love others. The world is a small place after all; why not fill it with love?