Coming to Lithuania to teach through ILP was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. And now it is coming to an end in just a few short weeks. So I wanted to share a bit about my experience with teaching, because that truly has been the highlight of the whole time.
It has not always been easy to be here, so far from family and friends. But whenever I get really down, I just think of the kids and focus all of my energy into loving them as much as I can. They really do have my whole entire heart. Even though I came here mostly for the travel opportunities, I will remember the kids the most. They truly are the best part of being here.
Here’s some advice to future volunteers: Show the kids love. That is really all the advice I have. When you show the kids love (even if you really don’t like them at the time), they will show you love back. This may not happen over night, but it really does work. And not only does it help the kids, but it will help you. It changes your mindset and I believe it makes you a better teacher.
My goal for teaching was to make a difference in these kids lives the way various teachers had made a difference in mine. I can honestly say that I was blessed to have the best teachers who honestly cared not only about my education but about my success as a person. So I took their influence on my life and tried to give these kids the same thing that I valued so much from other teachers. I may never know whether I succeeded or not, but I can only hope that I did, and I do know that these kids have changed my life for the better. So thank you to those teachers who changed my life and gave me inspiration for teaching here (looking at you Mrs. Valencia, Mrs. Parkinson, Mrs. Kaufman, Mr. Stucki, Mr. Ladeau, Mrs. Fendrick, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Warren, Roger Hunt, and Lisa Hancock) you guys are truly the best ever and I hope my gratitude gets back to you some day.
My favorite memories from teaching aren’t from when the lesson goes perfectly as planned, they come from when the lesson goes down the drain and the kids drive it in a whole new direction. From laughing with 4 year olds over being able to see through a hole in their paper, to being bombarded with group hugs because you told the class to go outside. Even potentially frustrating moments become favorites, like when I learned that I had to specify to stand on your feet because just saying “stand up” would result in a kid doing a head stand. And the sweet little moments that keep you going, like when you help the two 4 year olds take off their coats after going outside and they lean in and kiss your cheek at the same time or when a student randomly says “I love you teacher!”
And now as we head into having just 1 week of class left, I try not to think about saying goodbye because even just the thought brings me to tears. But I can say that I did my best and that is all that really all that matters. And, I honestly love these kids. They will forever have a piece of my heart.