A new semester has started in Cartagena. It physically affects me as I walk to school in the scorching sun, drinking water every step of the way. I arrive with a beat red face despite the 50 SPF sunblock. Teachers always worry about me when I arrive since, they don't know that a white face turns red when its hot. I say that I'm fine, but they tell me to rest just in case.
School affects me mentally too. Sometimes as I walk up the hill to school, I think to myself "why am I doing this?" I'm sweating, getting irreversible skin damage and I could get jumped at any moment. A confrontation will a robber would scare me to death, especially if it were at knife or gunpoint. I dream of the days of going to school in Boston, where I used my Blackberry on an air conditioned bus, not really paying attention to my bag or wallet. But just when the heat and fear are about to consume me, I always hear "Goo mornin' teacher! Howa ju?" I look up, wipe the sweat from eyes, and always find a brave student with who took a chance and greeted me in English. Despite my mood, I give a big smile and respond,"now I am excellent! How are you?" The proud student sends back an even bigger smile and says "fine. thank you."
When I reflect on these students sometimes with only an old uniform with holes, maybe a hand me down, I realize that braving the heat, sun and robbers is something students do everyday just to learn a little English. When I was their age, I didn't sacrifice anything to learn Spanish. It was just a gift I took for granted, but it is the only subject that gave me an opportunity. Who am I to deny the same for my students?