Perpetual Growth

Shifting My Perspective

~ By Johanna

Nearly three months have passed since my arrival in Isla Mujeres, and my perception of time continues to be challenged. Although I recognize that I arrived here in August and I can feel that three months’ time has passed, it is strange to imagine the current moment as November. In all previous years, I have spent the month of November — or at least part of it — in my home state of Maine. By this time of the year, I have usually experienced snowfall and sub-freezing temperatures. In Isla Mujeres, I am immersed in endless summer, making it difficult to distinguish one month from the next. Time here is marked by experiences — victories and challenges in the classroom, vivacious laughs shared with my roommates, and therapeutic days spent by the ocean.

My comfortability in the classroom has changed notably since my first few weeks as an intern. I have not only adapted to the schedule and to each of my class’s nuanced dynamic, but there has also been a perceptible shift in my confidence. My approach to teaching is more relaxed, and I can see that students mirror my state of mind in my various classes. I always strive to commit myself 100 percent to my job, but when I combine that commitment with a sense of goofiness, I feel wholly embraced by my students.

Apart from the daily classroom routine, two particular experiences have marked my time in Isla Mujeres — the celebrations of Día de Los Muertos and Halloween. Over the course of nearly two weeks, the primary schools on the island celebrated Halloween. Andrés, where I teach each day of the week, celebrated Halloween by hosting a costume party that my co-teachers and I attended — in costume, of course! In preparation for Día de Los Muertos, the students, their family members, and the faculty of Andrés created altars to honor passed loved ones. I asked my students about their family’s traditions for Día de Los Muertos and learned about the purpose behind many of the altar decorations, including food that was favored by the remembered family members. Whether it is an ordinary day teaching in the primary schools or the celebration of a major holiday, Mexico never ceases to fascinate me, challenge my perspective and contribute to my perpetual growth.