Being the Leader of the Day was something I was worried about. It wasn’t the people around me, or the new environment. It was from an irrational fear of doing something stupid in front of a lot of people. I have to stress on the word irrational, because I know that everyone on this trip is kindhearted, and wouldn’t make me feel bad for a mistake. But there’s this uncomfortable feeling that I had as soon as I accepted the role as the Leader of the Day. Some things were simple, reminding people to bring water bottles and put on sun screen; and then there are less simple things, such as trying to quiet down a large group of people, or making sure everyone’s dietary restrictions were dealt with. I’m not saying that those tasks were a waste of time (I’m a vegetarian, so it was nice not having to pick meat out of my food), they were tasks that just took more time and effort. I’m a camp counselor and have a lot of experience with dealing with severe allergies, so this was nothing new. It was the fact that if something went wrong, I would be the one responsible for a hospital visit. Even though the day was slightly stressful, it was still a lot of fun! Stepping up to this position is something I would very reluctantly do normally, but now that I know what it’s like, I wouldn’t shy away from doing it again.
Imagine standing in front of a bunch of seven year olds, teaching for the first time when you can’t even vote yet… Great, now add a language barrier. That’s is how I spent two hours of my day. Luckily for me, I had three co-teachers to explain and translate to the kids. These children absorbed every bit of information we gave them. From facial features to the alphabet, all of them behaved (relatively) well. They took their education seriously, and didn’t groan when homework was assigned. I was expecting to have to bargain with these kids about how much work they had to do at home, but they just stayed calm and quietly copied down their assignment. As a high school student, the collective groan after homework is assigned is almost a habit, rather than an occasional event. These kids actually wanted to learn, and didn’t mind getting assigned extra work. Me and the other Global Glimpse members in the classroom decided to take the kids outside to play for a little while after spending an hour and a half indoors. When we got there the kids stood relatively still, shivering a little from the wind. Me and my team mates took this opportunity to make a game out of this. We counted jumping jacks, seconds running, and crackers passed out for snack in English. Every little moment was a learning moment.
Growing up, I always heard the phrase “education is a privilege, not a right,” but it was mostly from teachers who were fed up with their class. It was more of a threat to me, than an insightful glimpse into the world outside of the United States bubble. The words eventually lost meaning, and I became desensitized to the idea, that I was lucky to be in a classroom. I rediscovered my privilege while a small girl in my class was pointing to my backpack, wanting to see the water bottle in the side pocket. On the bottle, was a drawing of New York City. She held the bottle in her hands, turning it occasionally, while I pointed out the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. She repeated my words and stared at my water bottle, as if it held contents from the fountain of youth. I realized that the buildings she was looking at, was something that I was lucky to be born into. I learned about the statistics of children without proper education on Living Like a Local day. Look it up after reading this, the numbers may shock you as much as they shocked me. This small girl, is one of the few children that have access to education, not even easy access to begin with. Listening to her break up my words into simple sounds made me think about what it would be like if I was born a different place than I actually was. And how lucky I was to have mentors in my life. It took me a few moments with that girl and an artistic water bottle to realize how lucky I was to be put in the place that I am.