I wish I had this training in Mexico, or maybe it’s just that I didn’t know enough to appreciate it. I remember the Spaniard saying a lot of the same things as the teachers here. Cynicism and sarcasm go further in Mexico teaching adults than it does in Taiwan teaching children. There is a big difference between leaving the States to see who I would become and realizing what teaching children is going to do to me. I once thought it interesting that I had managed to find my inner child, but now I have to embrace him. To really teach children, it seems that you have to be a child.
I had actually thought I got used to social anxiety and dealing with being among peers, but having to act ridiculous in front of people changes that completely. Even pretending to be a student is difficult. I keep expecting someone to laugh at me. It’s hard to let go of embarrassment, even when you think you have nothing left to prove.
One of the things they had us do was think back to when we were young, the games we played and the songs we sang. I remember sitting quietly in the circle with my class, singing a song called “down by the sea,” and doing my best to not react to anything. When you hid, looked embarrassed, or put your hand up, people noticed you. I don’t know when I learned that attention was a bad thing, but most of my life I can find memories of trying to be invisible. Over the last decade I’ve been changing that personality trait, but I can see there is a long way to go.
That’s the thing about pride. I want to be seen, but I pride myself on subtlety. I want to be awesome, but I am proud when I fall between the woodwork. Knowing how much work I have to do to be a good teacher for these children surprised me, almost as much as how often I felt my pride sting me. That is the goal though, abandon pride and become more than I was.
I haven’t really gotten close to any of the teachers during my time here, but with so little time most of the conversations are the same. Home, travel, and why Taiwan. A few went beyond that, and most of them I like, but I’m in Taiwan to see what life is like here, and that means the same it did in Mexico. Get to know the locals and find my way through their society. I liked the Teachers in Mexico too, but all my family in Guadalajara is Mexican.
When I left San Diego, I wasn’t sure what would happen. I just set off in a direction, finding a place that worked for me, and set about the work of living. Taiwan is so much further, but I don’t even know what I would feel homesick for. San Diego will never be what it was when my family lived there. Should I look to Atlanta, San Francisco, or Ohio, where my family lives? Mexico, where I found so many amazing people? What is home when you set out into the world?