There are first times that are scary. Almost every time I face new students, I have the same feeling and the same questions: Will they like the class? Will I be able to teach them something? How to start? How do I make a difference?
Today was my first day of class in Benin; in fact, my first day as a teacher in a formal education classroom. Before this, I had always taught in alternative forms of education.
I guess it wasn't too bad. I was a little nervous ... actually, terrified. My chalk broke into a thousand pieces, a stage I thought was over. I forgot parts of the lesson, although I had it all written down. My voice cracked. I dropped things. I forgot part of the song I had prepared, and the audio player turned off repeatedly.
And the children … how they looked at me! A bit of curiosity and expectation, and more than a little mischievousness in those little eyes—because they are already experts in this school system. Today, I was the new one in the classroom.
Despite everything, I could feel the grace, the understanding, and the complicity in their faces, as it is usual in my students. They are teaching me how to be a teacher, helping me to teach them, giving me clues on how to proceed, forgiving my lack of expertise, and co-working with me to be able to carry out the educational act.
Preciado cares for the animals and agricultural projects at La Casa Grande. Photo by James R. Krabill.
Today was the first day of school and I was terrified, because no matter how prepared I am, each class is a whole new experience. As a curious coincidence, a little goat was born at La Casa Grande today.
My husband showed me pictures of it when I returned from school. I found it interesting that the little animal came into the world on the first day of school. I took it as a good sign that just after being born, the baby goat ran.
Yes, a sign that life continues to make its way into this world where there is so much death.
Today, a goat, a teacher, and several students were born in this corner of the world. We all somehow opened our eyes to a new perspective, in a new light, before new fellow beings.
Being born must be scary, but it is the most beautiful miracle that can happen to us. It is even more wondrous when we have millions of reasons to live, to live well, and to live together.
Diana Cruz and her husband, Felipe Preciado, are jointly supported by Colombia Mennonite Church and Mennonite Mission Network. They began serving at La Casa Grande, a children’s home in Benin, in 2018. Diana teaches English and Spanish. Felipe helps develop agricultural and animal-breeding projects.