I have never wanted to grow up. You can ask my parents. For some reason as a child I was always very content with my age and really didn’t want to be “grown up.” In fact one of my more selfish reasons for becoming a teacher is so that I don’t have to grow up. I can go back to elementary school every year for the rest of my life. While that comes with a great deal of responsibility, it also comes with the freedom to be a child with my students every day. This does not mean literally becoming childish and acting goofy all day long because we always have serious learning to do. However, it does mean using silly voices to tell a story, making up handshakes, and laughing together because there is learning to be done in those things too. It does mean embracing the silly moments because life isn’t all about school. Children are almost always my greatest inspiration. They inspire me with the way they have an ability to care about others with eyes not yet shaded by the judgments of the world, the way they are still determined to be “whatever they want to be” when they grow up, and the way they love while wearing their hearts on their sleeves. They are some of my greatest teachers in life and I hope to be forever inspired by the lives and insights of children.
Last week at Grace Center we had a “sports day” to take a break from the stress of the upcoming exams. While there were many activities going on, I had no “official” responsibilities for the day. I grabbed my camera and what I anticipated as being a day of hanging out and being an event photographer sort of a deal turned into photography mini-lessons for my students. As I was taking photos and showing the students the shots I had taken (they love checking out photos of themselves…who doesn’t?) I saw awe in their eyes of my big black massive camera. I decided this was a learning opportunity. I told them “hati-hati” (be careful in Bahasa Malaysia), placed the safety strap around their necks, switched my settings to auto, and showed them how to hold down the button. I expected them to want to go take pictures of flowers or find some bugs, or take photos of the sports and games going on all around. However, they took photos of what they care about most, their friends. The results were beautiful. I could not have taken better photos myself. It gave me the chance to let them be “in charge” and with their new feelings of responsibility they were suddenly teaching me all sorts of new words and games. I now have a student who gives me a quiz everyday. She says, "teacher, tell me," and pulls on my shirt. I respond with "saya baju hijau terang," (my shirt is bright green) and she gives a nodding approval. The day was a great opportunity for me to be a “child” with my students. This year my students are teaching me a lot about love and other things. I’m sure there will be many more stories. However for today, I leave you with what I have learned so far. If you want to learn from a child, let yourself be one. If you want to see through the eyes of a child, hand them your camera. You might just see what love looks like.
Below is a slideshow of a mere sampling of the photos from sports day. Some of them are my photos and many of them were taken by my students. You’ll never know the difference. It will give you a glimpse of how awesome sports day was.