Why my job sucks: For the past 3 weeks, I’ve had to travel to high schools and middle schools to administer a speaking test to EL students. The SAME test. Over and over. ALL day long.
Why my job rules: I’ve gotten to meet a bunch of cool students. At one high school, I met two kids from Thailand who were Karen but could speak Thai!! One girl even asked me to wish her good luck in Thai to help her pass the test. It was so cute.
This week I went to an adult high school one day. I tested two Buddhist monks from Cambodia. It was a shock to see them walk in with their bright orange robes. While a familiar sight in Thailand, you rarely see it here. It was really cool to talk with them. In Thailand, women are not allowed to touch monks, and I assume it’s the same in Cambodia, so I was very careful not to touch them or even point my feet at them.
While there, I also tested a Hispanic woman who basically told me her life story. She is raising three children on her own, including an autistic son, and is determined to learn English. She moved to Nashville from Miami because it was difficult for her to learn English in a place where everyone can speak Spanish. I was so impressed that she was trying to get her high school degree.
There was also a Muslim woman from – hmm – I can’t remember now – but I remember that she was beautiful and so pleasant. She was timid at first, but when she settled down she showed me how well she could speak English. She also told me about her two children in regular high school while she goes to adult high school!
I also tested a really nice young man from Bhutan. He conversed pretty fluently and told me about his plans to attend college. I could tell by his clothes and manner that he is really trying to fit in with American culture. But when I asked him about Bhutan, his eyes lit up.
As I was talking to all these people, I had a thought: I’d rather be working with immigrants than with teachers.
In some ways, it’s true. Though teaching ESL has been a way for me to indirectly work with immigrant families, there’s this yearning in me to be much more involved in their lives. (I was originally an Intercultural Communications major in college – then I switched to Education.) I think I would love working for World Relief or Catholic Charities or an organization like that.
I actually have a dream of opening a center for immigrants that would offer English classes, job placement, home placement, cultural awareness classes, and legal aid. It would also offer on-site, custom English training for businesses that employed lots of immigrants. There would also be Spanish and maybe Arabic classes available as well as community activities and celebrations to bridge the gap between cultures. Maybe one day, it will happen.
For now, I’m thankful for a job that allows me to cross paths with people from other backgrounds and cultures. They enrich my life, and I feel like they enrich our nation.