The Magic Happens

Every time I get a new group of students, I experience some anxiety and dread.  With several hundred new names and faces to learn, I always wonder how is this going to happen? and for the first few weeks, it feels pretty impossible.  This year brought a record-breaking number of new students (322, I believe) and my assurance to students that love grows and isn't a limited resource that I'll run out of as I get to know more of them come out of a place of trust rather than a tangible reality.  Goodness knows that I don't feel at the beginning of the year like I'm going to be able to get to know all of them or like I have anywhere nearly enough love to go around.

Tonto, Belle, Lily, me, and Ben

And yet...

Right around this point in the semester, week five or week six, I start to feel the shift.  All of a sudden, classroom discipline gets much smoother because I have a handle on the names of the more active (read: more likely to cause trouble) students and can call them out without much disruption to the lesson.  I have some idea of which students to call on in front of the entire class and which ones to talk to as I walk around the classroom.  More students have eaten meals with me, talked to me on our walk back from their teaching building to the center of campus, or had extensive conversations with me on wechat.  So I am able to begin putting together names and faces and stories. 

And love grows, as it always does, as the Source of love fills up my heart so that I can keep pouring it out into these new students.  It feels magical.  It feels miraculous. 

It does not feel easy.  Recent conversations that are pulling at my heart include talking about "idols" -- the common student term for celebrities, which is very accurate for how students regard them -- and The Dead Poets Society, which my student Ben watched last week and found very resonant.  So we talk about obligations and pressure and endurance and hope.  And my apartment is a bit of a mess and my scheduling notebook is crazy full and the weeks are flying by and I'm tired. 

But it's magic.  There's these conversations and there are the students who tell me how much they love me out of the blue and the ones (Rose) who make it a point to hug me every time they see me.  There's the excitement of coming holidays and the relief of rain washing away the smoke from farmers burning off their fields, clearing away the ensuing headaches that lingered for us the past week.  There are golden gingko leaves on the trees and all over the street.  There are opportunities for deep relationships with other teachers and to help students develop their leadership abilities. 

So upward and onward we go. 


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