So often people want to talk about what they could have or should have done differently. Or maybe they shouldn’t have done it at all. I like to think of things I’ve done and if I had the opportunity would definitely do again. In this post I’ll touch on four of them.
I missed the first couple of weeks of high school. My friends from middle school were all going to Kelvin High and I lived in the catchment area for Grant Park High. My parents refused to sign the form that would have allowed me to change high schools. I never did hand in the registration form at Grant Park so I wasn’t registered anywhere. Instead I hung out at Memorial Park where I met some really interesting people. Of course eventually someone did catch on and I wound up at Grant Park. But those couple of weeks were awesome!
I had just received my certification for teaching ESL from University of Manitoba. I taught in a program at Red River College over the summer. Then it was time to find a job. I received a phone call from a school in Culiacan, Mexico and decided to head south. Yes, Culiacan is notorious for having one of the strongest cartels in the country. But I had a fabulous year in Mexico. It was so fabulous that when I returned to Canada to supposedly stay, instead I turned around and went back to Mexico. The past twelve years have been amazing!
That brings to mind the summer of 2015 when I came to Leavenworth for two weeks and stayed for four months. Then I made the decision to turn into a snowbird after living fulltime in Mexico for a few years. But I have become a snowbird returning to Washington State and not Canada. I’ve lived in different areas and have done some exploring. I’ve met some wonderful people who have now all become a part of my extended family. We laugh, we cry and we have incredible adventures together. It just doesn’t get any better!
But I’ve saved the best for last. I have two fantastic kids and it was worth all the nausea during pregnancy and all the pain during childbirth to be blessed with my son and my daughter. It was well worth moving my office home so I could be with my kids from infancy to adulthood. I enjoyed numerous hours volunteering with all the activities they were involved in. I have fond memories of bands practicing (of course they practice at the drummer’s home), chauffeuring, living in bowling alleys, coaching sports, being Akela of a cub pack and so much more. Yes, those were incredible days indeed!
I would do all of these all over again given the opportunity. High school, college, adulthood. It doesn’t matter. These are all great experiences that I would gladly repeat again.
I’m back in Mexico and that means I’m back on line taking courses again. There are so many of them out there and it’s hard to choose. But here are the three I’m doing now.
Duolingo. I’ve been doing this one for years now to improve my Spanish. When I go up north for a few months every year I always take a break from Duolingo. But seeing as I’m the only gringa in my neighborhood, I really need my Spanish. I have friends learning other languages on this site, but for now I’m quite content with Spanish only.
Commune. This is a new one to me. There are a variety of guest speakers on this site primarily geared toward women. Breathing, body image and yoga have shown up in the first couple of days. So far it’s been interesting. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll sign on for the full course. I’ll make that decision once the free trial ends.
Coursera. I’ve taken several courses on this site in the past. While I’m mainly interested in psychology, I have taken other courses in writing, philosophy, anthropology and sociology. Right now I’m taking a course from Yale called The Science of Well Being. I did the preliminary survey and discovered that I’m not as happy as I thought I was. Interesting. Once the course ends I get to do the survey again and then compare the results with the preliminary one.
So this is what I’m doing at the moment in my quest for learning. I highly recommend taking courses online. As a bonus, when you audit there are no tuition fees and there is no exam stress. Instead it’s possible to learn at your leisure. And at this stage of my life, this is a great way to keep on learning from the comfort of my home.
I’m retired now, but I’m often asked what kinds of challenges I faced while teaching English here in Mexico. I basically divide them into two distinct areas….. actual English teaching in the classroom and the challenges associated with the difference in the culture here from up north.
In the classroom, aside from the obvious grammar and pronunciation, there were the more abstract things included in the curriculum. I always found the topic of white lies versus black lies a challenge. There was always that one student who insisted that his steady girlfriend of so many years didn’t need to know about the new woman in his life because he wasn’t sure which one he wanted to be with until he got to know the new one better. He’d tell his girlfriend he was going out for a beer with the guys instead. In his eyes this was no different than telling a friend his new shirt was amazing even though he really thought the shirt was hideous.
Classroom management was definitely an adventure. Teacher aides for students with behavioral issues such as autism simply do not exist here. At one private school where I taught I had one student who consistently tried to climb out of a second story window when he wasn’t interested in the topic we were studying at the moment. Needless to say, his behavior always disrupted the entire class.
As a teacher, students rely on you for far more than just teaching them English. They often came to me with personal problems. The culture here is different, and I was always cautious, especially when it came to teenagers. Many problems students struggle with are really quite universal, adults and children alike, no matter which country you live in.
But these challenges pale in comparison with what teachers face today in light of COVID-19. The additional responsibility for providing safety from infection to students is huge, not to mention that teachers are putting their own lives at risk the moment they step into the classroom.
There is so much controversy about whether or not schools should open again when the virus is still surging. Here in Mexico the schools will not open this month. My heart goes out to teachers everywhere else in the world where schools are reopening. I admire your dedication and I pray for your safety.