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Ang Mga Estudyante Ko (My Students)

This is actually about less students than the title would suggest. It’s about two in particular students who just so happened to touch me emotionally today.

The first is Geek Stink Breath. You may know her from an earlier post of mine. Lately Geek Stink Breath has been practicing good oral hygiene or something because her breath ain’t too bad lately. Anyway, it’s not about her breath this time. I was walking out of my 1st period class to get to my 2nd period class. I saw GSB standing and looking out over the balcony. I initially thought she just had a phone call, so I just passed her and entered into the classroom. I was in a good mood today and the topic was Advertisements. I joked around about the fact that Pond’s Whitening Cream is misleading. It’s misleading because I just don’t think that I will ever get the pinkish-white glow that the cream suggests is just within my reach.

We transitioned to the group projects that were started yesterday. However, GSB still wasn’t in the room. My co-teacher inquired about her whereabouts. The students told us she felt shy, but I was thinking to myself, “I just saw this girl talking on her cellphone . . . unless, she wasn’t really”

I silently slipped out of the class and naturally, GSB was gone. I noticed that the CR was occupied. I knocked on the door pretending to need to get inside. The door was locked and I just waited like I would normally wait if I needed to use the restroom. She eventually came out with red-eyes and was about to head down the stairs until she noticed it was me.

I saw her heart and her mind working against her. She started to head down the stairs and then shifted her footing to go to the classroom and then suddenly just stopped. Standing in the liminal space that only ever exists in the physical world when one has to make a quick decision. I began to hear her thoughts. It was 1981 and Joe Strummer backs off the mic because Mike Jones is taking over for lead vocals in this song. Strummer is just gonna do some Spanish backing vocals. GSB looks at me with eyes that say, “So come on and let me know . . . should I stay or should I go?” and The Clash takes a bow as they play the last chord of their one and only single.

“What’s wrong [actual name deleted]?” I ask. She just says science class. I am told later the teacher chewed her out for being late and turning in assignments late. But as I mentioned in my first post about her. She is a good student, so this was humiliating for two reasons. 1.) She’s Filipino and being publically shamed hurts. A lot. (2.) She tries very hard in school and thus, this was a low blow for her. She just happens to share a minor character flaw with her foreign English teacher . . . not liking to wake up in the morning.

I nodded. Looked at her for a moment and say, “Just take a break for awhile. Cool off, ok?” She asks me, “But where will I go?” I tell her to just walk around and sit in the library.

I saunter back into class and tell my co-teacher not to worry about her, she’ll be fine. She just needs a moment or two.

My 2nd story is about a new student. We’ll call him . . . Colgate. Sorry, the kids just happen to not have the best dental hygiene, sometimes. He doesn’t have bad breath (that I’ve noticed), but he does always seem to have gross looking teeth.

Anyway, Colgate always likes to wait for me to come out of the English Department and then walks me back after class. He is in the Special Program for the Arts in my school and I still haven’t figured out what his specialty is (dance, writing, visual art, or drama), but I think it is writing. He has the best English of all of the kids, but he is also the most insecure. Yet, somehow, he finds me safe to talk to.

He is the most cynical child I have ever met. And I guess that’s what makes me like him. He isn’t depressed though. I don’t get that vibe. He just notices the stuff that most people overlook. Like the fact that he doesn’t really have to study, but he really does want to learn. Thus, he puts in the work anyway.

Today, he came to the department and waited for me. “Hello Sir” he says. I am so focused on getting to class without hearing “Hey Bro” or “Hey Joe” that I didn’t even notice him. “Oh! Hey Colgate!” He tells me how he hates the weather. “It sucks, but not always. Like, at home. This weather makes me sooo sleepy. It’s good to sleep like this.” It’s a rainy day and I respond with, “Totoo! Masarap na Tulog pagkatapos clase para sa akin!” (Yep, after class I’m gonna have a nice sleep)

We were walking to class when he suddenly stops and says, “Uhm . . . I should go ahead. I don’t want to be like, um . . a leech” and takes off running. I laugh at his adolescent need to not associate too much with the authority figures. He acts older than his peers, so when he suddenly has a burst of immaturity, also known as being 12yrs. old it surprises and amuses me.

I think I like him because I think that if I had a younger brother our relationship would be similar to me and this kid’s. Too bad I’m an only child, eh?

That’s all for now.

Much Love,

– Brandon Holly –

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5 thoughts on “Ang Mga Estudyante Ko (My Students)

  1. Right on brother. Im glad your getting little things and appreciating little convos. The other day I showed water flavor packets (kool-aid) to the family Im living with and it totally blew their minds. I know this may not be what you had in mind when joining PC but its still sharing your world and its the love within that is most important. Peace!

  2. paolo says:

    You’re a real jackass! You showed yourself what an UGLY American is. Rather than telling the girl about her Bad Breath Problem, you chose to muck her in this forum, of which she has no means to avail of herself. There are means to break these sort of things without embarrassing the other person. Use your damn ingenuity or shall I say, you yourself lack social skills.
    Peace Corps? what have it brought good to the world? Your contribution alone is worthless and yet, the waste the communities have to put up to accommodate all your worthless existence. I know you think otherwise but I dare you look at it closely with an Open mind.
    I wish all the Peace Corps Organization disband and save the government’s money and use it for the Urban Ghettos in the US and help the poor old people languishing in miserable health system unable to pay their bills and buy medications for themselves.

    BTW, Brittany (the PCV above reply), I hope you don’t teach English in the Philippines. You don’t know how to contract your native language and I could sincerely guess, you can’t spell either.

    • brandonwantstochangetheworld says:

      Well Paolo, thank you for your comment. I could easily have destroyed your comment, but I respect your right to express yourself. But, I would like to explain a few things to you. This is a blog, and I am allowed to state my opinions and unless you know me fairly personally, you don’t really know who I am. I am not bashing that girl, it’s just a joke and a way to identify her without revealing her identity.

      Now, considering my strong sense of anonymity, it should be clear to you that not only am I in no way embarassing anybody and if you read my posts I am actually sympathetic to the people I mention. Now, I would also like to explain to you Peace Corps.

      My fellow PCV Brittany is actually doing her part to stop the AIDS epidemic in Africa. You can’t truly believe that something like that isn’t worthwhile. But, I almost agree with you. Why spend money sending an underqualified, but socially aware 23yr. old into a foreign country? Use the money to train the teachers that are already here, use the money to help stop poverty in your own country, etc. However, even though the Peace Corps. is providing a service, the service is not the point.

      Think of it this way, Paolo. Let’s say you are on your way to a homeless shelter, but you stop and help someone fix a flat tire along the way. Sure, you MIGHT have been able to feed more people if you hadn’t stopped, but that’s not the point. You stopped because you love people. And people need friends.

      PC doesn’t do what it does ONLY to provide services. It also exists for the sake of relationships. It proves that our world can be united. I believe that peace comes from understanding. And that IS something that the PC does well; if not the organization, then certainly the volunteers.

      And one more thing. The Peace Corps. only goes to countries when they ask for PC assistance. In other words, PC did not come to The Philippines on a whim. The people and government of The Philippines asked them to come.

      I hope you don’t honestly think I am a Jacka** or an ugly American from one silly out of context blog.

      Much Love,

      Brandon Holly

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