Jackie Brown - Ecuador

January 9, 2013

This is a speech I gave at one of our recent seminars. Even since I gave this speech I have seen improvement in both my classes and patience… I’d say it’s safe to say there is correlation between the two.

About four months ago we were all sitting on the grassy field of Stanford. We all still were living the familiar American lifestyle but that was due to change soon enough. It was the night before we were boarding the plane and we had an estimated one-thousand emotions going through our heads. We were all asked to pick one word that we would focus on this year. I thought for a few minutes and the word that stuck was “patience.” I wrote it in my journal that night not knowing how it would play into this year.

But now looking back at that page in my journal I feel as though I couldn’t have picked a better word.

When we first returned to our communities I showed up to school one day to find out one of the two teachers of the school hadn’t shown up. I was handed a class of thirty students from grades forth to seventh. Within minutes of the imaginary bell ringing I was standing in front of my class. To my left the rebellious Noel has his feet up on the desk playing with
some puppy he had found outside my classroom. I politely asked him to put his feet down but it had little affect if any at all, just a glance in my direction and then his eyes returned to the random puppy. So I decided to look for someone in the class that was behaving. I took a scan of the room and on the other side was not too surprised to see two kids fighting. I was in the middle of breaking up the fifth grade fight that was over who-knows-what when I realized there was no other solution than to drag one of the students outside. I was punched at, kicked, and screamed at by the angry child who ran away as soon as I let go of him. I returned back into the classroom, tried to regain the focus to teach a lesson on colors and got no where. I was feeling hopeless and fearing having to wake up this situation everyday. It was a long day full of headaches to say the least. The class ended with some Spanish yelling on my part and a forced “Have a good rest of your day” to all of my students.

That afternoon, I walked the familiar cobble-stone road back to my house with my ten-year old sister venting a little bit but holding myself back from exploding. That night I turned to my journal and wrote the highs and lows of my day.

I remembered things that I had completely looked past during the day instead of focusing in on them. There were a few students in my class who tried to get the others to behave. We had a successful game of Bingo. I was able to connect with the reckless boys during recess while playing soccer. So a feeling of hope came over me. Nothing overpowering. Nothing life-changing. Just the little spark, as some would call it, to remain patient and positive.

And now… well we could pretend that my classes always enter with respect, their homework perfectly done, and are willing to participate with whatever I have planned but I think we would all know it’s one big fat lie equivalent to when Ecuadorians say “Oh one day we’ll do that.”

But with maintaining patience, I have woken up with faith that the day will go well, maybe not as planned, but well.

Jackie Brown