Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Smattering

This posting will contain three separate writings that I did while offline today. Please don't try to connect them. My brain was sleep-deprived and lacking nutrients and kind of lonely. Just read :)

AND OH MY WORD. It will not let me copy and paste into the blog. For REAL? Sorry, then. You get nothing for now. Because the internet is about to cut out again (I can feel it fading) and I'm quite tired, seeing as it is 5:20 in the MORNING here. Wait. Nevermind. I found the answer.

After spending just four full days in Bucharest, I find myself incredibly antsy. Part of this is my trepidation about venturing TOO far outside of the areas I know, which is largely (I think) due to the language barrier. In Chicago, one of my very favorite things to do was to take a bus or the train to a new neighborhood, and just go exploring. But in Chicago, I could always get home, because I could always just ask for help. Here in Bucharest, I don’t even know what letters some of the words begin with when people talk. The language is beautiful and fluid and completely incomprehensible to my ears. I do not remember people speaking this quickly when we were in Oradea last year- this could be a regional distinction, or simply because we always had a translator with us. Regardless, I’m terribly afraid of getting lost and having no real course of action.
I have been thinking a lot about the kind of qualities I want to develop this year. If I allow it, these months could slip by with incidental growth and I will find myself at the end of the year with just a smattering of change. I want to be intentional about growth both in my own life, and in the life of my students. How to do this though? Growth is slippery and difficult and intangible- how can I be purposeful?
A few years ago, I compiled some words that I think define the kind of person I want to be, and the characteristics I hope to embody. In pursuit of growth (and in honor and deference to the nerd living in my soul), I have decided to choose one word each day to focus on and work for and discover. They are the following: affect, love, loyalty, desire, assurance, ambition, trust, hope, future, compassion, simplicity, optimism, wish, dream, humility, confidence, peace, empower, maturity, responsibility, heartfelt, and faith.
I know that to even think about walking away from this year with all of these qualities is a tad unrealistic and overly ambitious and even arrogant. However, perhaps I can strengthen all of them just a bit, in a search for the person I want to become.

For someone who defines herself as an educator, both as a source of pride and an excuse for behavior, I know shockingly little about schooling outside of the United States. You could ask me about any current event in teaching or education in the States, and I probably have an opinion or three to share. I lug around the soapbox everywhere I go so that I can jump onto it in an instant, and I have worked hard over the years to avoid shoving my feelings down the throats of those who just are not hungry.
I think one of the most difficult things in moving to a new country is to avoid comparison. It is so easy to measure everything by the standard of what is known, and in my case, this is the United States way of doing things. I’m a little embarrassed, to be perfectly honest.
The educational system in Romania is just a wee bit different, and exploring it this year will be quite the treat. Remaining flexible and just understanding that this is the way things ARE, and maybe not the ways things could be… this might prove to be my biggest challenge.

One of the things I have been most surprised by is the admiration from others regarding my status as an American citizen. I wasn’t really prepared for this- I thought I would have to go the “other way” and temper down my citizenship in order to be liked. Perhaps this is just a feature of Western Europe that hasn’t caught up in Romania yet. Regardless, I have met people who would kiss my feet if I let them, and I am trying to be both appreciative and humble. It really isn’t as a result of my superiority that I was born in the United States, and that I am a native English speaker. This is the message I am trying to communicate.
With such a status comes an enormous amount of pressure. I hope that being the resident native English speaker at school is not accompanied by the assumption that I have the best teaching methods or amazing English techniques. My friends, I have so much to learn. For the first time in months, I am nervous about the teaching part of this endeavor.

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