Tuesday, January 18, 2011

School, Snow & Staying Alive

I crunched through a fresh snowfall in the semi-darkness this morning, on the way to school; it sparkled in the dimness. By this afternoon, though, the pristine pathways had become dirty slush. 'Twas ever thus, but especially in Bishkek.

There are enough stray dogs and cats here to break a strong man's heart. Of course, the human brokenness is just as prevalent and more profound, and the animals are perhaps a symptom of that. The dogs are scruffy, ribby, mangy currs of all varieties - they dodge traffic and hide shivering behind trees and subside on bread scraps. The cats fare a little better, being essentially cattish in nature and better able to fit in warm places - but when I saw a grey kitten in a gutter yesterday, tears sprang to my eyes (and immediately froze there).

I've taught a couple of classes now, and I have this to say: these children are extraordinary. They are sensitive, observant, friendly, responsive - all the things teachers wish we could say about our students, and rarely can. They are keenly aware of what's going on in the world, and their hearts are soft and alive to the needs of the people in it. While I'm grappling with unfamiliar curriculum and texts and stressing needlessly about how to assess, they're graciously willing me on and encouraging me. Yes, I'M being encouraged by THEM. I wish every teacher could have this experience.

That said, there is a lot of hard work to do, in planning and documenting the semester ahead - oh, and how I'm tired already! I'd like to be sleeping better. But I had a meeting with a team of people from my organisation tonight; a couple of other teachers, a woman who works with the homeless, a guy who's training young Kyrgyz men in small business. Very encouraging to share stories, build a support network, and learn about the work that's going on here.

I'm sorry I don't have photos yet - the opportunity hasn't really arisen. Soon, I hope!

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