My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
Theodore Roethke, from In A Dark Time
This was the week of troublesome classes, of all the official paperwork coming/going through, and the week I had to give a decision as to whether or not I’d return for the fall term, so it was challenging in many ways.
The biggest struggle in deciding whether to extend to next year was the good students/bad classes issue. Some of the students are – well – terrific. I was walking home after Erika had helped me open my bank account and I heard someone call my name from behind: it was G, one of the dormitory students, and we walked together for a while and I got to know more about her life, which is complicated, as are many teens’ lives these days. Yet there she is, a sweet kid who speaks three languages, who’s lonely and apart much of the time, yet with a boyfriend, and a challenging family situation. Then there’s a boy in my last class of the week who is so quiet, who is so smart, who speaks so well, who asks so many right questions, who answers questions with knowledge beyond his years. There were the three boys so eager to talk and have someone listen to their ideas about a topic …
But the counterweight to these instances are the classes of sullen, blank faces, of kids who talk—in Hungarian, which they aren’t supposed to do—loudly during class, of kids who check their phones constantly, of the students doing homework for other classes and who don’t participate in mine, of the girl cliques chatting away, the boy cliques ignoring everything and anything else during class. I know English Conversation is not a priority for them – they just have to keep improving a little, there’s not as much importance or weight attached to my class as to others – and my class may be only one of several classes in English for them (the bilingual track students).
Therein lay the biggest challenge with regard to deciding whether to extend. There were other elements, of course, such as the psychological effort to get here, the physical effort to gather documents and then, once here, the hundreds of signatures on documents (it seems the signature on an original with subsequent photocopies does not suffice here – each copy of a document must bear an original signature), the trips to immigration and other offices, and the energy needed for settling in. Somehow all of the paperwork seemed to make me feel more grown up, yet opening a checking account in one country really isn’t any different than opening one in another country, yet in someway it did feel different. One of the forms I had to sign stated I wasn’t a famous person or public official.
Teachers who had begun the school year in September had had a number of months to come to their decision; I had to make mine inside of a month of landing. They had had the benefit (?) of a winter, of having endured, of handling everything which is, for me, still unknown.
Music that takes you to two places at once
and the girl can shuffle