Summertime

I think that life, God, fate, whatever you want to call it, gives us only what we can handle.  In high school, the most I had to balance was homework, friends, choir, and swimming, and it felt like that was a lot.  While in college, I juggled a part-time job at a restaurant and my studies, and felt like that was plenty.  Then, after graduating, I managed to hold three different jobs, which kept me on my toes.  I thought that my life in Ecuador would be relaxing, that I would learn to live like a Latino and enjoy more leisure time, but it turned out I had gotten involved in a well-intentioned, but under-staffed and unorganized, non-profit that needed a lot of administrative assistance, so I stepped up.  Balancing my own teaching there with helping out the organization, trying to improve my Spanish, carefully interacting with my infamous host mother so as to not unintentionally upset her, spending time with friends, and traveling around that lovely country took up much more time than I ever imagined it would, and yes, I felt busy.  However, nothing can compare to the busyness I have felt in the last ten months of my life.  (I say this knowing that some of my friends tackled the first year of teaching while being mothers, wives, and even taking Master’s level classes.  I honestly don’t know how they do it!)  After a year like the one I’ve had, I am appreciative of summer break.

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Generic Advice for Anyone Embarking on a Volunteer English-Teaching Trip

It certainly has been a while.  My first year of teaching just ended and summer is still so green and fresh that I’m still having a hard time adjusting its relaxed change of pace.  It feels so good to not be constantly thinking about planning/ grading and finally be getting to the tasks that, for so long, were pushed to the back burner.  One of those “round-to-it”s was writing back to a friend of mine who is going to be volunteering for six weeks as an English teacher in Thailand.  She was asking me for advice on how she could prepare for her adventure, especially in regards to the teaching.  Today, I was finally able to give her a sufficient response, and I figured I’d share it here, in case any readers were considering or planning similar trips and found the advice helpful.

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