This comment by Jonathan Timm, 17 days ago, on Medium, really made me feel something. I mean, wow.
The full story is on page one of Medium, see it here. Dina Ley writes ‘Teachers are done. No, really; at this link:
It’s nice to be able to read Medium again, now that I’m no longer in Vietnam. It’s blocked I guess there.
There are so many difficult things going on for my friends who are teachers, and I read this article and really felt… bad for the work that so many have had to do throughout this pandemic. I remember talking to some of them, in different parts of the world. Europe and the United States and here in Asia. There’s just a lot dumped on them, having to do with adjusting by the minute and dealing with so many other peoples’ stress.
I had two neighbors in Vietnam. Both were teachers; they told me their daily struggles and both seemed to like smoking (a lot). I saw more tiredness and energy drained than usual, especially as the pandemic dragged and we were like, What the? Then I read on Vietnamese News Express about these English Centers just closing down and ghosting on people, leaving both students and their parents as well as teachers hanging on, wondering what was going to happen next. This was sad to see, too. It was also what I kind of saw coming, if you know what I mean. Letting things go too long and being owed a couple of weeks’ salary is already too much, I feel. I would prioritize my home life over work life if this was my situation. Thankfully it wasn’t due to some good luck and occasional kindness, in the form of the crowdfunding page for projects in S P A C E in Vietnam since March 2020, and related. I was definitely not there by choice, but, given the circumstances, did what I could to self-teach and self-direct. What choice did I have?
I guess I could have gone to work. But they wanted me to sing and dance at the one job I was asked to come and do and if you know me you already know what exact expression I was wearing when they said that. What a joke. I decided to focus then, on S P A C E, and made the Book of Feelings and New Cuizines in earnest along with a popup, Al Fresco, which I hope to carry over to my new situation now, where I am. For those who are opting in, I am ready to do work. For those who couldn’t value the work I do, I cannot. Teachers are not valued enough. I had tried it myself, a little, and found out that, very fast.
The exception was the time I got to teach older people who were very trusting and very humble and I learned how to be kind, and careful, and respectful, while also designing the classes to fit their exact levels and not get too far ahead of myself. Pacing. I usually won over the toughest in the classes, too, thanks in part to DC‘s lending me Conflict in the Classroom ahead of my first middle school teaching gig. This was after trying to talk me out of doing the gig. This was in Ireland. ‘I went there, Dipika. You do not want to do this, but okay, if you do… read this book.’ I did. It helped me with not just that year’s class, but many other times when I’ve had to set boundaries, with people who hate boundaries being imposed because, hey, they’re narcissists, and, as BA said in Chiang Mai, ‘Western culture rewards narcissism.’ So true. It wasn’t so ringingly obvious until that conversation on that day and at that time. Travel teaches you things.