I was in my room at my hostel in Barcelona, Spain when I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I found my purpose in that small, shared room.
I was with my roommates (three Canadian girls) one night just talking in our room. They were on a Spring Break trip. They were telling me about how they were enjoying Spain but why couldn’t people learn English, that would be so much simpler. I bit my tongue because I wanted to tell them that they were in Spain, why hadn’t they learned Spanish before travelling. They continued to complain about the cultural differences and how hard it was navigate their day when they didn’t even have a pocketbook of Spanish phrases.
They basically wanted Spain to have the culture and traditions that they were there to enjoy but to have them in English. They had no concept of the way a language shapes the culture and vise versa. Where I live we have over 20 words to describe rain, somewhere like Kuwait with less rain has less words for rain. In all languages there are phrases that make no sense when translated literally because they are tied to culture and history.
The conversation through the night touched on many topics and I had to keep my thought to myself on a few items where I thought these poor girls were ignorant, biased, racist, or rude. I eventually learned that all three of them were not students on a trip but teachers. They were all primary teachers who were passing on their values and morals (or lack there of) onto classrooms full of malleable children each year.
I know the students will have other teachers with differing opinions and a broader view of the world but in that moment I feared for future generations. I decided in that hostel room that I needed to be the change I wanted to see in the world and that there was no better way to do that than with my own room full of tiny humans to guide.
I began the search for a teacher program. I began to gather my transcripts and paperwork to apply to go back to University. I am sure that there are people out there who hear me speak and have the same cringe that I had hearing those girls in Spain speak. I am very liberal and support all the causes. My Grandma thinks I’m a conspiracy theorist, I think evidence says 9/11 could have been an inside job. I hope it wasn’t but I think there are enough people around the world who like the status quo and are willing go to (send other peoples children to) war to keep it.
I’ve finished my degree, been certified, and had my own class for four years now. Maybe my students won’t change the world or maybe they will. All I really hope it that they know I want them to try their best to do good and be kind to others. Then they can change someone’s world. They should also question everything, no matter how annoying it can get in class.