The worldwide Augustana College experience

Could this be for me?

What was not to like about the Alpha Girl’s school? ABSOLUTELY nothing at all. It was by far the best part of the trip. The girls were just simply amazing in every single fashion. They were funny, bright, intelligent, and most of all determined in what they needed to do. Education is very different to everyone there compared to here in the States. To most people in the states education is more of a right than a privilege. To Jamaicans it a privilege to get an education. Not everyone will have the chance to go to school or even come out of it. SO when you get that chance as a child/teenager you take full advantage of it and work your ass off. Nothing is more important than school to many people in Jamaica. I was not able to hear the conversation that Joey and Michael had with Rodger, but what they did tell me was that Rodger felt so proud everyday when he walked his girls to school and walked them home from school. Knowing that your child in school is the best feeling ever, Rodger said. Education means so much to Jamaicans and I wish that many Americans had the same feeling… Yet they do not. The girls even felt that way and I could feel it while in the school with them. The girls genuinely wanted to be there. They wanted to learn, they wanted to put in that extra effort, they wanted to start something new for themselves and they knew that education was the start of that. The only time I struggled to get a girl to participate is when they felt sick, and even then I would ask them to do one problem for me and they would without question. They would do that one problem and get it correct without saying but why? Can I go to the nurse? They did not question, they just did it and did it correctly. This proved to me that the girls were there for all the right reasons and not just because they had to be or their parents made them do it like in America.

The part of school that got me the most was the girls participating all together. On the final day of teaching I would ask a girl to read a problem out loud, then the next thing I heard was the entire class saying the problem in unison. This amazed me. If I asked a student to read aloud in the States it would be like pulling teeth from them. When I asked for a response, the entire class would yell out at once the answer. Did everyone yell it out? No, I could see that some girls were not getting it so I would make sure that they got it before I moved on. It was easy for girls to hide behind their peers if they did not get the problem since everyone else yelled the answer out. That was the only struggle that I had with some of the girls. Getting EVERY single one to respond was easy but difficult since some could hide. Though walking around and checking their work proved to me that they understood that problem and I could move on. But sometimes they did not get it and I had to walk them through one until they got it. Plus, most of the girls, if not all asked questions when they did not know the answer. They had the confidence to ask questions to clarify when they did not understand. Something that I noticed many students in my clinicals here in the states did not do. Every day being there made me fall in love more and more with the school.

As the week went on, I kept thinking could this be the place for me? Could I see myself teaching here in the future? My answer changes daily. Part of the week I thought yes I could see myself there. Other days I thought, wow this would be a big change in my life. One that I could do but would be very different than what I saw myself doing before embarking on this great experience. I am still very up in the air about this decision since it would be a huge life decision that I would have to make. I would need more time to think it over to plan out what life would really be like there since I would not be staying in the nice hotels that we did… I think that I would need a buddy to bunk up with. If anyone from the trip considered it as well, I feel as if our decisions would be made easier since cost of living would be less. We would have a buddy to be there with us to not feel so alone at night. Time will only tell whether or not teaching in the Alpha schools would be for me! Maybe I will fall in love with my next clinicals placement or student teaching. Who knows? Time will only tell but I do know one thing so far. Teaching is right for me, just as long as I can get through Egan’s Math Methods course this spring!

There is one thing that I will never forget while being at the Alpha school. I am a student-athlete so school comes first but track is also a huge part of my life. I had the honor, yes honor to run with some of the female sprinters at the Alpha school. Going into practice I did not know what to expect. But they sure did blow me away. First, watching the High Jumpers was amazing. They were all able to clear over 5 ft 3in like it was nothing. Something that took me over a year to accomplish since I had never done it before. Then I was able to run against the 400m runners. Myself and Keith asked the coach what pace they were going to do their workout in and we were shocked at the time she told us. 62 seconds through the 400m mark in flats on a grass 260m track with hairpin turns is just mind blowing. Something I thought that none of those girls could do. But you know what? One of them proved me wrong. She was right on my heels nipping at the chance to beat me! It was possibly the best workout I had ever had, not because it drained me or I felt that I had gotten way better. Just the fact that these girls were out here with not much at all for a track, putting in the work every single day, and getting better made me feel amazing. It was inspiring in a way since they don’t have all the fancy stuff like we do here at Augie, but they would kick most of our female athletes in the ass at a meet. That is how good these girls were. Oh, and don’t forget they were only in high school so 2-4 years behind collegiate athletes. It was such an honor to run with them. To push them harder in practice even though they were pushing me harder. They made me better just from that one day. They made me realize that you do not need much to be great. All you needs is the time, the little space they had, and the DETERMINATION to succeed. The drive to be great and to push through the pain. That is what they taught me. Something I took for granted for years as being an athlete. And Mike summed it up pretty well with his first day speech to the girls. “We are the coaches, you are the Athletes. The coaches don’t win the race, the Athletes do.” Athletes need to take the initiative to be better, the coaches can only help. The girls took this speech to heart in the class metaphorically and physically on the track.

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