Colombia: Not so far away.

I’m technically, what, 2500 miles away? About? And a lot more kilometers than that, and can I take this moment to quickly ask why oh WHY did we have to change measuring systems? Perfect conversions of 100 used worldwide weren’t good enough for the U.S.A.?

Where were we? Distance. But not really. One of my 9th graders asked me, “Are your students in the U.S. cansones (tiresome) too?” [He and everyone else assumes I’m a real teacher.] And I answered, “Yes. One hundred percent yes. You’re all the same.”

Because every time I have a tough class and I’m about to lose it when they just will not stop talking, or ten kids ask the meaning of a word I’ve explained a hundred times, I try to remember: they’re just kids. They’re not on the edge of their seats, scribbling notes elatedly as I explain irregular verbs, because they’re thirteen, or fifteen or sixteen. They’re in my class because they have to go to school every day until they graduate. If I spend hours planning classes and thinking up ways to help them learn and they spend all precious 90 minutes talking or texting, it’s nothing personal. There’s always at least one student listening or excited about the game, and that makes a difference.

Every day also brings a reminder that people are really inherently similar no matter where we are. I walked into my tenth grade class after lunch yesterday and they were all acting crazy and laughing hysterically. Then one of them showed me something. “Teacher, it’s a tamal.” It was a backpack turned inside out. I was in tears from laughing. The inside-out backpack trick? It’s always been funny and even more so internationally. The fact that they called it a tamal, which is Latin American for anything wrapped up in a corn husk or big leaf and steamed, made it even better. By the end of the class, everyone was clutching their bags in their laps, my pencil case was inside out and no one could take a dang thing seriously.

Tamal (the edible kind)

Tenth grade might just be senior year bio class coming back to haunt me, but I love them for it.