I wasn’t quite sure about what teaching. Why share something when you receive so little in return? Why give so much when you are underpaid and underappreciated. I guess I understand that a little better now. Today when I taught English for the first time I finally understood. I’ve never taught anything before, so why would I be able to do so now? I thought my class would probably be boring since I would be working with adults and how could speaking my native language bring joy to anyone?
But it was the compassion that I saw in those even double my age that changed my mind. Then I understood. In the face of happiness, it’s impossible to not smile back, especially when something so underappreciated is that source of joy. I never comprehended the value of my language or the value of my knowledge. We all have something to share, it’s just a matter of finding those who will listen. One of the greatest joys in life is giving but the best gift that can be returned is that same joy. The Dominican community had nothing to physically give me, but they didn’t have to. In fact, they gave so much, one of my students paid someone to fill in his job as a doctor so he could be in my class. In my session, he introduced phrases like “I want” and “I need” and I had everyone in the class list their wants and needs. So many of my students simply said that they needed to learn English!
It was at this moment that I felt it. I felt important but not because of myself, I felt like I had something valuable and thus it was my duty to share. And the more I gave, the better I felt about giving. If I spent six hours in that class it would have felt like two. The sight of grown men smiling and laughing over the games we played really moved me. I knew that they cared and I cared too. What was most important for me was how hard they tried to learn. A shared joy is the best joy. I had not even known these people for a day and I felt love. I felt loved. I loved to give, and they were willing to take every piece of it. I finally understand what this means, I’ve never understood why parents can be so strict but I get it now. They are teachers. When they see their child carry on the lesson that they instilled in them they feel joy, and that joy unites us. Even if it was just a day, I felt like I had known these people for years (as cliché as that sounds). I am nearly brought to tears discussing what it really means to share something like this. It’s powerful, as weird as that sounds, and you can never comprehend it without having the experience. I don’t think I had some life-altering moment but I feel like I’m so much closer to one. I finally understand why teachers teach, it’s not about the money, or fame, or anything else. It’s just the joy you feel when someone can take everything you have to give.