My name is Kristen and I am 21 years old. I have completed 2 years of university and have taken the past school year off to figure out if the major I chose, Communication Studies, was right for me. I have little idea of what I want to do after I graduate and want to at least get some idea of possible careers I may like to pursue.
My first semester off I followed my family to Beijing, where they were moving to, and started Chinese classes at a university there. I was not sure what I would do with my second semester until I heard volunteers were needed at CBS. My only previous teaching experience was the semester before, where I had done a study abroad program in London where I worked as a teacher’s assistant. I was already greatly attracted to the idea of being a teacher due to the amazing vacation days teachers receive—summer, Christmas break, etc., but I figured it should take a little more than just days off work to decide what career path I should decide to take.
As it turned out I really enjoyed the internship in London, and it added to my uncertainty of what career I want because now being a teacher was definitely in the equation. But, I didn’t want to just get a degree in teaching because I think I might like it, I wanted to try being an actual teacher to figure out if I am even any good at it and if it could be the right career for me or if I decide I hate it. The opportunity to test the waters of teaching, and plus already having a background in Spanish, quickly brought me to the decision to be a volunteer at this school. I arrived in Honduras on January 5th, and school started a few days after that. I was assigned 2nd grade, which was great because I am pretty sure that if I am to become a teacher I would like to teach younger students rather than older. Due to the lack of teaching experience I have, for the first two weeks there was another teacher in my classroom kind of guiding me through what lessons should be like and to help me out until I was capable of handling the class solo.
I got into the swing of things pretty quickly. An average day for me consists of waking up at 5:50 in the morning—a thought that used to seem unthinkable to me due to the fact that I am most definitely not a morning person, but the 14 hour time difference between Honduras and Beijing allowed me to change my sleep schedule quite easily. The van picks all of the volunteers up at around 6:40, and we arrive at the school ten minutes later. I do not start teaching until 10:00 because my off-periods are the first three of the day, so I really begin my day after the kids have recreo, (recess). Then I teach straight until 2:10, with a 45-minute lunch break in between. So far I am incredibly happy with my decision to come here and have really enjoyed teaching my class.
During my morning off-periods I tend to plan all of my lessons, and when I finish with that I do other work or I just chill. The other day during my off-time I was researching universities and programs I could do that would allow me to get a degree in teaching as well as something else for me to fall back on just in case down the road I decide that it is not for me. I was getting frustrated because I am incredibly indecisive and by that, I mean I cannot even decide what country to finish my last years of university in. I was also getting annoyed at myself for not being able to just pick a place because I am pretty sure that in the long run it won’t even matter and I should just graduate and be done with it so I can start my career life and begin actually earning a living.
My moaning was interrupted by the recess bell ringing and a bunch of students running into the teachers room, (where balls and jump-ropes are stored), to get their playing equipment. It then hit me how ridiculous I was being—complaining about how I have TOO many options and choices to make while I am teaching in a school where most kids will probably drop out of school by 9th grade, if not before, to start working, or stay in school until they graduate and probably not end up getting a much better job than the kid who dropped out years before, or they will follow in their parents or relatives footsteps and escape illegally into the US to get a below-minimum-wage paying job because they have no other options and no other choice.
After realizing how ridiculous I was being I felt like a pretty shitty person. I was having 1st world problems in a 3rd word country. I am lucky enough to even be able to go to college for any degree and definitely shouldn’t be complaining about how hard it is to decide on what I want to do when whatever I do will be ‘better’ than what a kid I teach will get. I am not saying they won’t be as happy or have as fulfilling of a life as I will—in fact they may have better, I am just saying they have incredibly limited options. I haven’t had to try very hard to get any of the jobs I have gotten, but if these kids ever wanted any of the job opportunities I have had or will have, they will have to bust their asses and even then they probably won’t get very far.
I have always known life isn’t fair and having travelled to quite a few countries around the world I have seen loads of poverty and witnessed first-hand the shitty conditions some people have to live in, but now and then I get carried away with my small problems and forget how fortunate I am to even have the tiny problems I do. My issues don’t consist of whether or not I will be able to find a job that will allow me to have enough money to feed my children; they consist of me not being able to decide what university to attend and what career I should choose to pursue. I know I will always complain about stupid irrelevant stuff because that is what people do, but it is important to realize that what I am complaining about is dumb to about 70 percent of people in the world.
-Kristen, 2nd grade teacher