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Wow, what a week it has been. So much has happened since we have arrived here, yet the time has flown by. This week has really opened my eyes. I feel like I have grown so much in just a short week, and I cannot wait to see what experiences the next two weeks hold. There have been so many little things that have happened since I have been here that have been so meaningful. Whether it was the eighth graders leaning over the second-floor balcony welcoming us to the school, or when one of the kids made me a paper butterfly there have been many instances that made me step back and realize how wonderful this experience is.

Hand holding a Paper Butterfly
Paper butterfly an eighth grader named That made me on the third day of camp

Although I could go on and on about the little things, I decided to write this blog post about the “big thing” that happened this week. I would go so far to say as this was the most moving part of my week and my experience in Vietnam so far.

“At the conclusion of Mai’s explanation, the class started cheering and each and every one of the children’s faces was full of pure joy. I shared this experience with one of the camp directors, Oanh, and she simply told me, ‘That is the joy of teaching!'”

This past week in eighth grade physics, the class learned about velocity and motion. At the end of the day on Thursday, we taught the pink team as our final class. To preface this, the pink eighth grade is a very bright group of kids. Naturally, they blew right through the lesson we had planned for the day. So, the other coaches and I decided to teach them a motion concept that was not in the book and not part of the lesson that day. We wanted to push them and teach a bit of a more challenging topic, as we wanted the smart kids to excel.

Jake, Linh, and I struggled to teach this one concept to the children for about fifteen minutes. We had explained the concept many different ways, trying to get the point across, but nothing seemed to be working. Finally, as we neared the end of class, this young girl named Mai (pronounced like the word “my”) answered the question correctly. Jake and my faces just glowed up, we were ecstatic! When Mai realized that she had answered correctly, the look on her face was just unexplainable. She was so excited. I do not think that I could have smiled bigger if I tried. Since Mai speaks English fairly fluently, we talked with her a little more to make sure she fully understood the problem. After this conversation, Mai explained how she had reached her answer to her classmates in Vietnamese. At the conclusion of Mai’s explanation, the class started cheering and each and every one of the children’s faces was full of pure joy.

I shared this experience with one of the camp directors, Oanh, and she simply told me, “That is the joy of teaching!” This moment meant a lot to me, and I cannot wait for many more like it.

0 responses to “Joy of Teaching

  • Genny says:

    Keep it up Josh! That is an incredible story! Very proud of you and all of the other ACE kids. Enjoy all of the incredible experiences, and never forget the small details and all the kids you are helping. Love you and miss you!

  • Linda Slack says:

    Josh, I’m so glad Genny sent me your essay and group photo. It was heartwarming to hear your appreciation of the experience, enhanced by its foreignness. Middle-schoolers are my favorite age group to teach.

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