As I sit typing this in the school’s computer lab – which has more broken computers than working ones – five Form B girls sit behind me, quietly working in groups. They have been revising, or studying, for the last three days as they are to begin taking their final exams tomorrow.
Today is technically the last day of classes, although most teachers haven’t attended a class since the previous week primarily to let the students revise. This is a day I’ve long anticipated but now I am a bit nostalgic and dejected.
Teaching was my passport back into Peace Corps and I rarely felt passionate when writing a lesson plan on the different types of pronouns or explaining the elements of a powerful argumentative essay. Additionally, I am not terribly great teacher, especially not when compared to my friends in Peace Corps and at home who are professional teachers, and I am sure there were hundreds of things I’ve could have done better or more efficiently. Still, I did it.
They days when my students’ rude and disorderly behavior drove me to tears, the times some refused to do homework, the lessons that blew past their comprehension, the ones who would rather play than work or the poised questions that were not met with a single voice – I endured it all and, in some instances, thrived.
There are the students who weren’t passing English when I arrived but now are, including the Form B student who told me she hadn’t passed an English exam in two years but has passed more this year than failed. The girl who was convinced three weeks ago that she wouldn’t return to school next year but now talks about helping as a student librarian in 2014. The group of 20 pupils who likely wouldn’t be able to attend school without the financial help from Lesotho RPCVs and the look on their faces when I declare half of their fees paid. The light in the students eyes when they understand something, they can maneuver it and use it outside the classroom. The days when the students are engaged and we laugh together, playing games and sharing a connection deeper than one of a teacher and her students.
Yes, the difficult days are over, but so are the good ones.
I knew early on that I wouldn’t continue teaching after Peace Corps – I have deeper passions – but I am so thankful for the chance to teach and have a greater respect for teachers in every country. It’s been enriching for me to do something that I am not very good at and I’ve learned more lessons than I probably would have doing something I love.
Classes are now finished, soon so will be exams and school will be closed. It’ll be time for me to leave the village and start the process of closing my service. All those days in the classroom, with chalk dust all over my arms and clothing as I stumble through a haphazard lesson, will be a memory of a time that challenged me and forced me to a be a better person.