| Deciding to teach abroad was an easy decision for me to make. The summer after my junior year
of undergraduate, I had volunteered in Tanzania; I was placed in a school (one room) with forty plus
loveable three, four, five, and six year olds. I had hoped to volunteer in an orphanage, but it seems
that God had a different plan for me, because after being placed at Hope Nursery School, my life had a
direction, whereas before I was lost.
I pursued my Masters in Education, and began applying for jobs all over the world. As many
travelrs do, I had “see the world” ADHD. “Ah, I want to go there. Oh, oh, oh but what about
there?” The places I applied varied—Tanzania, Honduras, South Korea, Taiwan, Ecuador—and I got
offered several jobs—mind you not because I am truly qualified—having a degree means nothing
when it comes to these little munchkins. Within days I had phone calls from Korea, Taiwan, and
Vietnam. The first offer I seriously considered was at a competitor school to Super English in Surat.
The job started too soon for me, though, and after I turned it down I felt an urging that I belonged
in this city.
If you’ve ever lived anywhere besides the United States, you know that your heart becomes stuck
in the very first place that ignites your travel bug. The kids here are nothing like my babies in Africa,
and the schools are much more structured, but I love these kids with my whole heart. There were
moments where I had hoped to be sick (not that it matters much, because you can’t miss, and besides,
you feel bad, because they LOVE their time with you, and alright, you LOVE your time with them,
too); there are also moments where I feel like I could hit an entire class over the head with a hammer
and make no difference. But, the moment my ghetto fabulous motorbike pulls into the Noonoy
parking lot, kids are waving and shouting my name. I even think that all but two kids have learned
that my name is not Jessica, which is quite an accomplishment. I am at Noonoy only two days a
week, teaching eight sections of kindergarten, grades 1-6, and English Club. It seemed daunting at
first, but the variety and the freshness is a dream.
I also get the pleasure of seeing the other side of the tracks; I teach two Super classes five days a
week. I have little babies—four to six years old. I have seen major progress, love the kids, know
them well, and enjoy when they giggle. You get a certain level of comfortableness, where they have
no problem smacking your booty during a lesson, giving you hugs for free, or as my “princess” class
does, hiding in the hall after class so I can monster roar at them. My absolute favorite is when some
of my super kids come back for hugs—that’s when it really feels like it counts.
This teaching thing is no easy gig, and I have found some karma in the kids who have trouble
sitting, being quiet, or are smarty pants… At first, I had too many hours, and Peter helped me by
cutting some. Now, I feel like I have a hold on things, so Peter is giving me more next semester.
When I was struggling with one of my classes, Peter came in and showed me how he would handle
it, and even ended up splitting the class in two, because the levels were so varied. Another great
thing about Peter that differs from other schools is that he brings the whole school together. We
aren’t just employees or awkward roommates—we are friends. We have monthly parties that Peter
puts on where we all get together, and I know of no other school that does this.
Be prepared to face new challenges, exhausting (sweaty) days, kids who make you want to never
have any yourself, and kids you want to steal. At the end of the day, whether we sign on for extra
time at Super, move home, or move to a different country/continent to teach, I know not a single
one of us regrets our decision to live in Surat and teach at Super. I, for one, love my life and cannot
imagine it being anywhere else.
|One Semester Testimonial
by Shelby Stroud