Highly unqualified…and loving it.

Abigail Bethke - Ecuador


June 1, 2017

Since September I've been kind of baffled, and I've never really blogged about it. Baffled by the fact that I was a teacher for 7 months. Even though I just graduated from high school…this is something that hit home even stronger when I came back to Wisconsin. I had no degree, no experience, just barley an adult, but in the context I was in, I was the most knowledgeable English source in my school and my town, and therefore, a valuable asset. That's the true power and value of knowing the English language. When I left Cañar, even though I only worked as an apprentice, I knew that if it was possible, I could've continued working at my school, and maybe even get hired on, to teach English professionally, which seemed absolutely incomprehensible. 

I technically had to work with a coteacher with all of my classes in Cañar, as a rule per Global Citizen Year, considering dealing with a class full of 4th graders or even high schoolers can be pretty demanding for a non native speaking, no experience teaching, fresh out of high school nineteen year old. Most of my teachers stuck to the model, thankfully (it wasn't the case for all my friends)…but problems occur and they'd have to leave at times. And what better to leave them with Abi…the kids adore her. 
It's been hard coming to terms with the bizarreness. Because now that I'm back, I'm no longer doing a job well out of my qualifications. I'm working in a clinical lab, which includes a lot of monotonous work and very little space for problem solving and goal setting…the exact opposite of teaching English. 
I laugh at that so much now, because I remember when I first arrived at my placement and the institute of Quilloac. Overwhelmed spurts to the top of my mind immediately. Or anxiety. What the hell did I get myself into? Why did they make me a teacher? I have to control children and come up with activities. The thought of exhibiting creativity to combat my students short attention spans ached my bones as I laid in my bed in the afternoon after class. I didn't want to plan. I just wanted to ignore it. 
However, little gain and little win after another, confidence is built. Slow and steady. And by the end, I took on several projects. Coteaching, tutoring, running extra curricular English classes, and helping my own coteachers practice the basics. It never turns out perfectly I learned. Teaching is a professional appearing catastrophe. Polished rust. It never goes as planned, but finishing anything delivers a sense of accomplishment. And along with it comes the biggest reward, of doing something truly meaningful and character building. I felt my confidence growing with every class. 
But now, I'm back home. And I'm doing monotonous work. And I get a little frustrated. Or bored. Or homesick for Ecuador, yearning for the next challenge. I never thought I would say that in September. But really, I may not have even thought that in March. I loved my students, and by the end, that's what made it all worth it. Even though it stressed the hell out of me, I loved seeing my loved ones learn more and help them how I could. I knew that this job would be still quite hard if the friendships I made hadn't eased my nerves. 
Even though I understood all this by the end of my months in country, I'm now painfully realizing the privilege of the opportunity I was granted, working a job I was nowhere near qualified for. While it's making my transition home harder, it taught me unbelievable lessons. And most importantly, it has made me value good challenges and is setting my goals high for the future. I want a job with a little bit of a grind at times, with the problem solving and creativity. It can cause some lows, but it makes for the most addicting highs. 

Abigail Bethke