Thursday, July 22, 2010

English vs. Life

This morning I gave an oral quiz in English class. The quiz was about the past tense (“What did you do yesterday?” “What did you do last weekend?”) and neighborhoods (“Are there any banks in your neighborhood?” “Is there much crime in your neighborhood?”) But before I got to those questions, I asked a simple “How are you?” Greta and I try as much as possible to keep up with what is going on in our students’ lives, but that’s not always easy to do when there are 20 of them. And when we do hear about how they’re doing on a more personal level, we are reminded of just how hard life can be here. It’s not that life isn’t hard in the U.S., it most certainly is, but at least in comparison to the places and situations I come from in the U.S., the people that I’m interacting with here on a daily basis have many more serious and frequent problemas. We have students who are struggling with difficult housemates and divorces, jobs where you work 60+ hours a week and unexpected pregnancies, machismo and transformation, and abusive relationships and insomnia. Not to mention the daily tasks required to run a household, raise children, and simply survive. Again, it’s not that these situations don’t exist in the U.S., but that a simple “How are you?” at the beginning of an English quiz brings an overwhelming torrent of struggle, heartache, and stress from several of my students.

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