How Teaching English Changed my Life

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Dear Diary,

For the first time in my entire existence I really feel I want to be in the moment to enjoy each and every precious second of it.

Gone are days that I endlessly plan “escapes”, make sure I will get the most out of it then dread every second that I need to come back to the harsh reality.

I stopped craving for the need to be always surrounded by friends and trying my hardest to make them laugh to be perceived as cool so I will feel accepted and loved. I can also hardly recall the last time I used alcohol to have fun. I don’t even know how hangover feels anymore and loud music started to make me feel sick.

Diary, H&M and other nice brands are just a stone throw away from where I live but I’m just ignoring it most of the time. I can’t believe shopaholicism has cure. Or these are clear symptoms of adulthood?

“Danica, why do you always say you’re fat, ugly and old? Can’t you see you’re a dream girl?” My student curiously asked making whatever I am insecured about nonsense at all. And yes Diary, he can speak almost good English now and I will never stop bragging about this.

I’ve been working closely with the refugees. I started teaching them English but they taught me so much more in return just by merely being friends with them.

I wanted LV, Prada, Chanel and they just want a safe place they can call home where no one can harm them; where they will not be caught offguard when a bomb will just drop at their doorstep and explode any moment taking their lives; where they will hold a pen not a gun; where they can dream; where they can just be alive.

I can vividly recall my early days with them. I was sitting and observing in all their German classes. They couldn’t speak English nor Deutsch yet and I could only speak English.

We would just smile at each other. As their English and German improved, the more stories we shared, the more tears I secretly shed, the more lessons I learned and the more I appreciated just being alive in peace. That whatever it is I am battling with inside me doesn’t matter at all.

They all failed in comparison with what they are going through.

I only worried about not being to travel much or gained so much weight, they worry if they will still live.

Diary, I was never a good motivator and I am the worst racist there ever is but when one of my students, close to tears, said that he misses his family and friends, I buffered for few seconds.

I didn’t know how I fought my own tears from falling and with every conviction I gathered, I uttered, “Remember why you took that risk of boarding that ship just to be here when you’re feeling this. Hold on to that dream. Use this as your motivation. You’re young and you have a very bright future ahead of you. You are already here. Learn German and English and all other things you can. Start a life here and be successful. It’s not going to be easy but you can do this. Enjoy your life and your youth. I will do anything just to be your age again. Don’t thank me for always being there for you. I thank you for making me learn lessons I’ve never learned in school or anywhere else.”

He smiled and though I know his religion will not allow girls to hug boys like that in public, I didn’t care and it didn’t matter.

That hug made me feel like hugging myself more to give the comfort and the assurance that everything will turn out okay too. I needed that hug too. I needed to be assured that things, no matter how hard and complicated they might seem, will be alright too. That hug, that I never got from those whom I expected they would come from. Everything could have been different had I felt that warmth too.

Ever since that conversation, I felt a huge difference in me. Winter makes it harder to get up in the morning and leave my bed but this never stopped them from attending my classes so who am I not to show up? I’m not with them to teach.

I’m with them because there’s something important I need to learn. Even snide comments and questions like, “Anong mapapala mo diyan sa mga Refugees? Bakit d ka maghanap ng normal na trabaho?” and “Matalino ka d ba?” (What will you get from those refugees? Why don’t you go look for a normal job? You’re intelligent right?) don’t appeal that much to me anymore because I am at my happiest.

Money is needed but it’s not everything. Maybe I’m with them because I’m also seeking refuge. My inner child needs attention. My inner child didn’t grow up and my healing just started. My soul needs to grow. This isn’t my destination. This is my journey and it just began.

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(Actual diary entry copied from my neglected blog)

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7 thoughts on “How Teaching English Changed my Life

  1. Very thoughtful article and reflective. It’s through these small things that we pay attention to that we attain self improvement.

  2. What you´re doing is wonderful, Danica.
    I love that you´re learning while you´re teaching and realizing that the things you wanted weren´t really the ones you needed.
    This post felt honest and heart-warming.
    It put a smile on my face!
    You go, girl!

  3. beautiful post, I can indentify so much i even cry. Im waiting to go elementary , because i started a volunteering of classes to kids, and is my passion to give myself to others that way. But this year i couldnt apply to the career and i had to do a profesional formaion to get a job blah blah, but as you say my inner child is not totally healed

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