I’m doing a really bad job of committing to this blog. When I list all the things in the world I want to do, writing stories about myself that will only be read by six people is not at the top. But, for the sake of you loyal readers (thanks Mom and Dad!), I promise to do a better job. This new format will help.
Every week, I will answer one of four questions:
- What does every day look like?
- What are the ups?
- What are the downs?
- What’s coming next?
It will be something of an ongoing series, briefly giving you six loyal followers a few insider updates, supplemental to larger, monthly, blog updates.
So, here goes nothing.
What does every day look like?
I wake up. I try to wake up early. It’s too hot to go to the gym after class, so my best bet is going early in the morning. Every day for a month now, my phone has been set to 4:50 am. Thanks to my faithful alarm, inspirational music fills my room every morning, at precisely that time. I stand up, beat my chest, roar like a lion, and hit snooze. My self-discipline is not at its best before sunrise.
I wake up for the second time, usually at around 7:20. School begins at 7:30. My real alarm comes in the form of 30 screaming 4th graders. Classes are short and intense. For 35 minutes, students blast through new vocabulary, pronunciation practice, and sentence structure. You know, the things that nine year olds love. At least three students in each class have a firm grasp of what is going on. At least 10 students in each class have no clue what is going on.
Then, at approximately 10:20 am, Vietnam stops.
Everyone disappears. I think they go to sleep, but I can’t be sure. The school is empty, the streets lonely, the coffee shops barren.
Until 2pm, the world is mine. I think people come back to life and each lunch, but I have yet to see proof.
So, during these golden hours, I try to figure out life. I pray, read, dream, figure out what I am doing in this country, figure out what I am going to do today, watch highlights of Stephen Curry, journal, read some more, check up on Syria, check up on Donald Drumpf, cry, pray again, then get to work.
Most days, I am back in the classroom at 2. More 4th grade grammar drills. School lets out 90 minutes later. The students are exhausted after their 4-hour school day.
It is at this time, the hottest point in the day, when I, in my infinite wisdom, decide to go to the gym. After a really hard 10 minutes, highlighted by flexing in the mirror and picking out songs that make me feel strong, it’s dinner time.
Evenings are for private classes. This is what I look forward to. For 2 hours, I am unleashed to teach students whatever I want, however I want. Students come by the masses, more every week, because they have heard the rumors of the large white human who speaks another language. Week in and week out, I fall on my face. I am defeated, in joy, by students with more energy than I can handle, with more capacity to learn than I can fill, and with more questions than I can answer.
Sometimes I think they are learning things. Sometimes I think they are not. I know, however, that each week sees marked improvement. And I know, in these moments, why I am in Vietnam.
It is immediately after these classes that I limp down the street and crawl into my bed, never without setting my alarm to 4:50am.