Transmitting a spark

I’ve written in this blog before about how I never planned on becoming a teacher, and I know I complain a lot about workload, but overwhelmingly I feel so excited and grateful that I get to do what I do every day, for as long as I want. I remember one day in my first semester of adjuncting when I was driving from one university to another, having already taught 2 classes and preparing to teach 3 more, which probably should have been an overwhelming or possibly depressing experience. But what I really remember from that drive is joy. I think it’s because my students’ enthusiasm reminds me of the first time I learned whatever it was – for me, teaching is a way to continually relive the best moments of my past. Probably my favorite lectures to give deal with culture because I get to use my own work and experiences to relate the excitement of being in another country and culture.

It’s even better now that I have significant travel experience because I get to share my own photos, tours, and stories about missing the bus and walking across the Mexican countryside. The textbook that we use at my school, apart from being pretty darn good, also just happens to feature the countries I have already visited right in the first 4 chapters, so when we do cultural lectures I get to go to town.

It’s so interesting to me how the act of telling someone else about an experience makes me feel more connected to the event. I find that even though I am ostensibly teaching other people about Guatemala or Spain, I end the lecture feeling more excited and passionate about the concepts I’m teaching than my students. Granted, the teacher usually has much more passion for their subject matter than the student, but the act of teaching seems to be a manner of remembering and reminiscing.  It also serves the purpose of organizing and laying out themes and ideas, almost like when I research and outline. It becomes much easier to see recurring topics when you are going through 500 pictures post-trip.

This clarity only really comes with time. I only just got back from Ecuador and I don’t really feel like I understand how to present it to my students. I don’t yet feel the flow and structure of this country in which I spent 2 weeks. I don’t know that I’m even going to begin to put together an Ecuador lecture yet, although I know I can’t delay that forever since I will be presenting to the college community sometime this fall. But right now I don’t feel that spark, so I don’t feel confident that I can pass it on to others.

But once I get that lecture going, man, Ecuador is going to be THE BEST TRIP I HAVE EVER TAKEN. I guarantee it.

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