Mistakes are a part of learning. In fact, I feel you learn even better if you make a mistake. The children in my village struggle with this concept so much! They are so afraid to make mistakes and they won't even try in fear of getting the answer wrong. I've been trying to brainwash them into thinking mistakes are good by saying every single day: It's okay not to know, but it's not okay not to try. Every. Single. Day. Over and over like a broken record. I heard a knock on my door while cooking dinner last night and outside stood four children with their English notebooks looking expectant. "Madam, we want to talk to you about our doubts." I didn't quite understand and after some explaining I realised they were admitting that they did not understand what I had taught that morning. I can't even tell you how happy I was! I walked into the classroom today and told all of the children how proud I was of the children who were brave enough to tell me they didn't know something. I then revised and retaught what they were struggling with. These big breakthroughs seem to be happening more and more frequently and it feels like their progress is execrating at a rapid pace.
They say when you teach you are like a mother (or father) to many children at once. I have always thought I felt this way because I have always loved the children I teach, but today I experienced motherhood like never before. A child of mine walked past me covering his face and although he is normally first to greet me, he walked away quickly without a word. I was ignored even when I called out to him and he continued to make his way towards the principals courters. I watched him from afar. He seemed to be crying while trying to compose himself and debating whether to enter the principals home or not. I couldn't watch his suffering any longer and walked towards him, calling him nearer. "What happened?" He burst into tears. "A boy in Class 8 beat me." The children fight here often, but this was different. The fighting and hitting of one another is something that is accepted here and although the children get into trouble when they are caught, few of them ever admit that it ever happens. This particular boy was always so cheerful and it would take a lot to upset him this much. I literally felt my blood boil like never before. Rage clouded my vision and all I could see was red. "Show me who did it." I am not proud of my uncontrolled emotions and the anger that I experienced. But my protective instinct took over every part of my being. I am sure the Class 8 boy could sense my raging anger and there was no doubt on his part - he knew he would never be able to lay a finger on any child I teach again. There was no need for shouting, just a simple: Lay a hand on any of my children again and you will go straight to the police for assault and be put up for expulsion. I still take the severity of these heavy loaded words seriously, and would follow through with them if I had to. I walked away before the tears ran.
My Class V's have been begging me to go on a picnic since the first day I arrived. The whole class of 45 students had planned to go but we had to cancel as I was asked to go to the temple with the other teachers. We finished early and I quickly tried to gather as many children as I could for the picnic. I am so thankful that there were only 10 children in the end because they took us walking through dense forest and I was so worried some of the children might fall the entire way down - Talk about motherhood! They seemed to cope far better than me who was slipping and sliding in the sandals I so cleverly decided to wear. They pointed out their local "park" which consisted of a large rock in the shape of a slide, all of the children had a go and they coaxed me into doing it as well. One child mentioned that they have real parks in the capital city and she seemed totally mesmerised at the thought of there being a place devoted just to playing. How lucky the children are back in South Africa! We sat along the banks of our village river and Dylan and I watched as the children made sandcastles in the sand. I found this so amazing, we didn't have to tell them what to do or entertain them at all. We watched and they created their own fun, having us there was simply enough. I sat on my rock and watched all of my children - acknowledging my emotions completely, I really and truly see them as MY children and I honestly love them all so much. Even if they drive me crazy sometimes. They also bought Dylan and I our own packed lunch of rice and curry. It took forever to get them to all sit down and eat because they were having so much fun just playing in the sand.
All of this in one day! I am learning more and more each day about my true purpose here in this Himalayan Kingdom.