Reflecting on…

Five months in Mexico

~ By Gaël

Next week will be our last week of classes. After five months, it is time for me to say goodbye to my 400+ students – and I already know that it will be a bit tough to say goodbye to students who I have become attached to. Over these past five months, I have gotten the opportunity to learn more about these students, interact with them both as their English teacher and a friendly guy and in general terms just to have fun with them.

This experience in Mexico has been a fantastic and unforgettable time. First and foremost, working as an English teacher with young children in grades one through five, I have had the unique opportunity to do something which I had never done before – and, in the process of doing so, discover that working with young children is something that I enjoy doing and even something which I’d say that I’m pretty good at! Working with children is obviously a challenge, and trying to teach them a foreign language perhaps an even bigger challenge (for both student and teacher), but it is one of the most rewarding challenges I’ve taken on. Young kids’ smiles and hugs welcome you to their classes every day, and hold you back as you try to exit their class after 50 minutes of English. The boys and girls in the younger three grades shower you with notes or small papers, tokens of their appreciation. Some of these notes really do get to you – when they teach how much you mean to them; how much they enjoy English class or how they like their English teacher. When working on particular projects, the students really dig in and give their best, and you see on their faces how happy they are – and it doesn’t take much to make them happy (oftentimes just colouring a picture does the trick for them!). Outside of class, their inquisitive nature (eager to find out how certain words are said in English, or even what their name in English is) and comments will put a smile on your face, no matter how frustrating some of the classes may have been earlier. For these and plenty of other reasons, I will be very sad to say goodbye and it’s clear that I will remember and miss these precious moments in the months and years to come.

Living in Mexico, beyond the teaching, has also been a great experience. Living, working and having fun with likeminded teachers from similar backgrounds has been fantastic. Being a short bus ride away from some of the best beaches has been a really nice treat. I have had the opportunity, over the past five months, to visit some truly awesome places – natural and historical wonders – in this region of Mexico: the impressive Mayan ruins at Chichén Itza, the colonial town of Valladolid, the wondrous Mayan ruins overlooking the Caribbean in Tulum, the peace laid-back beaches and sunsets of Holbox, Isla Mujeres and the awesome multicoloured lake in Bacalar. Finally, as somebody who enjoys trying out good food, Mexican food has been great – tacos, tortas, burritos, tamales, salbutes, empanadas, you name it!

Next week, it will be tough to say goodbye to heartwarming students, new friends, good food and a pleasant environment.