Investments

Tomorrow marks 3 weeks left in Indonesia.  While I am unbelievably excited to get home and see the people I miss, breathe clean air, climb a tree, and eat Chipotle, it will also be hard to leave.  There is so much that needs done before I leave – the school year must be wrapped up (teachers – and English teachers especially – I know you feel me on this one!), my house needs packed and cleaned, you’re-leaving-the-country paperwork needs to be taken care of.  We have our last homeroom get-together to be had, our last student council event to be planned, our last coaches meeting to be attended.  On the other side of things, a place of dwelling in America needs to be found, paperwork needs to be done for the new job, summer plans need to be made.

And on top of all of this, I am leaving a lot of people that I have grown to love.  And moving to the opposite side of the world.

Now more than ever, the question arises:

What is important?  Where do I invest?  

A few weeks ago, my mom shared with me a story about my younger brother that answers this question beautifully.

As you prepare to be challenged by a 12-year-old, let me give you a quick background on my family:

We love to win.

It’s just something in the Schaeffer blood.  Ice cream and winning, not necessarily in that order, are among the most important things in life.  My father has instilled in us a deep love for both.

And this love for winning can bring lots of good!  In addition to the highly entertaining rivalries and memories that have resulted from this, it often points to achievement.  We don’t want to give up!  My siblings have accomplished all sorts of neat things due to the drive to do well.  Where I see it tripping me up, though, is when it becomes the main goal.  When it becomes more important than people.

A co-worker put it well recently while we were casually sharing important life lessons with our students.  “Just because you prove you’re right doesn’t mean you win.”  Sometimes focusing on achievement means neglecting or stepping on the people around us.

Back to my brother.  Although he appropriately loves ice cream, Andrew’s real passion in life is baseball.  Since he was three, that is the activity in which he has invested the majority of his time and energy.  And he’s good!  He plays on a travel baseball team and does a pretty darn good job of it.

Recently, they were playing in a tournament and Andrew was up to bat. The catcher let a pitch pass him, and the opposing coach began yelling across the field, berating him. Andrew, as the batter, was at the place as all of this took place.  Before taking the next pitch, he turned and told the catcher that it was ok, that those things happen to everyone, that he just needed to keep his chin up and keep on playing.

Andrew wanted to win that game.  He wanted to do his best, and he worked toward that.

But he didn’t let that stop him from loving people.

It’s not an either/or questions.  It’s not accomplishments or love.  It’s not working hard or having friends. It’s not winning or being soft.  Both can absolutely co-exist.  We just can’t let a to-do list or a desire to win stop us from seeing people.  Stop us from loving people.

Because at the end of the day, that’s what matters.

It is good to strive for excellence.  It is good to want to do well.  It is good to work hard toward things. But we must be careful not to focus on these things alone, blocking out the people in our peripheral vision.

As I finish here at SPH, I want to finish strong.  I want to invest in people.  And sometimes, as a teacher, that means taking the extra hours to give good feedback on students’ assignments.  It means staying after school to focus on that new unit I decided it would be a great idea to do at the end of the year.  It means organizing everything for the people that come after me.  That is one way to invest in these kids.

But it also means putting my pile of papers away during lunch and laughing with the students in my classroom.  It means taking the time to sit and talk with a student that is struggling, whether that be academically or otherwise.  It means patiently working through the silly requests that may presently seem like they don’t matter.

Because really, those are the reasons that I love teaching.  Those are the things that I look back on and remember.  Those are investments in people.

And that is worth it.

Aside

Frisbee Tournament

Every Sunday, I play ultimate frisbee with a group of teachers and students.  It’s become a part of my week that I really look forward to!  I love the range of ages and the way that everyone can play together.  One of the best things about teaching in an international school is the special and unique community that is fostered between all involved.

Image

Image

Our school recently hosted an ultimate frisbee tournament for schools in the surrounding areas.  Though the sport hasn’t yet taken Indonesia by storm, there were ten teams that competed.  SPH played some excellent frisbee, placing 2nd and 3rd, but more than that it was fun to see the way that they stepped up in sportsmanship and leadership.  Watching them help kids who were hurt, pull in kids who were left out, and pray for both teams at the end of the games made my day!

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

In the middle of the tournament, we took a break to grill out, eat together, and enjoy the pool.  As must happen when in the pool and in the competitive spirit, chicken fights broke out!  Most impressive were the inter-school battle (won by SPH) and the triple decker chicken fight.

Image

Image

KDM visit

This past Thursday we had another random day off of school – I’m honestly not sure why – so my student council kids and I went on a trip to an organization in downtown Jakarta that rescues, rehabilitates, and educates children that have been living on the streets.  The organization has been working in the city for 30+ years, and is really doing incredible things!

On my first teacher’s desk I had a post it that asked: “Am I surviving or thriving?”

The thing that was most incredible about this organization is that they were really encouraging kids to thrive.  It wasn’t just survival, just eating and sleeping and getting through the day.  It was kids living as a family, receiving an education at their level, experimenting with art, going on exploratory trips around the country, going to a soccer tournament in Brazil, designing and building their dorm with a volunteer architect.

It was a huge inspiration to me that, even when life is hard or I feel like I’m behind the eight ball, I need to be exploring my passions and practicing my talents and giggling and loving people and seeking out those little corners in which I can thrive.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

SQOTD #16: An Erotic Racket

This is not the first time – nor will it be the last time – that I find teaching ESL students more than mildly entertaining.

Today during our lunch hour, I had about 25 kids hanging out in my room.  They’ve taken to this recently, and I love it.  A group of students kicks around a soccer ball on the far side of the room.  Another cluster huddles around a few guitars, singing.  Others spread out chatting, laughing, studying.

It’s loud. And I love it.

One of my students came to talk to me in the midst of all of this, and questioned if “this is how it always is at lunch?”

“Yes, it tends to be this way,” I replied.  “They sure make a racket, don’t they?”

He agreed, “Ya…but it’s probably good that they’re erotic at lunch, because that way they can focus during class.”

An important note on the English language:
A racket ≠ Erotic

SQOTD #15: School Technology

It’s always funny to me the things that students pick up on.  More than once they have informed me of my habits of which I was previously unaware.

Recently, though, they caught onto something of which I (and probably the majority of teachers) am completely aware.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the school that I am currently working at, and we’ve been working on loading a new time capsule that will be opened in ten years.

My kids were working on notes to themselves during our homeroom time, and we were all chatting as we worked.  In regards to the USB with video interviews that we were including in our shoebox, one girl remarked that, “In 10 years, we probably won’t even be able to use USBs!”

One of my boys, still working, nonchalantly responded, “Don’t worry.  The school will still have the same old computers.  We can just use it here.”

Made my day!

A Warm Welcome: Photos

Yesterday, our 7th graders took a few hours off from their regular schedule to host children from a nearby village. In the past year, half of this kampung burned down, the families had to evacuate because of a flood, and now the government is trying to relocate them.  It’s a very poor area, with most of the housing built on stilts above sewage.

The elementary schoolers that our kids invited in do not have the opportunity to use the beautiful campus that we take for granted every day, and it brought so much joy to see them enjoying the pool, playground, soccer fields, basketball courts, and library, amongst other activities.

Per request of the liaison from the neighborhood we were hosting, our kids also taught their visitors about nutrition and hygiene.  My group planned a lesson on washing hands for kindergarten – 3rd graders, and others prepared stations about brushing your teeth, what germs are, and healthy eating.

I missed out on a good bit of the event while I taught my 8th grade classes, but here are a few sweet pictures from my time with these little ones!

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

ImageImage

Soccer Carnival 2014

Every Spring*, our school holds the Soccer Carnival, a day in which the entire school – K1-12th grade – ditches classes to join together, play soccer, and participate in all kinds of fun activities.

Image

The day before the event, a group of students and several teachers get together to decorate their team’s section of the gym.  Our kids are part of 4 teams, all named after Indonesian volcanoes, and compete as part of this team throughout their entire career at SPH.  This year, the themes picked included aliens, construction, oriental, and Goldilocks. (We had a gong.  And a dragon.  Both were awesome.)

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

One thing that I thought especially entertaining was the “soccer bowling” that was part of the morning assembly.  Every team had to send a student from each grade to kick the soccer ball at the pins, 2 students to reset pins, and about 20 kids to lay on the ground and serve as bumpers.  My favorite little bumper was a kindergarten boy who made my day!  He took his job very seriously.

Image

Image

While there is a lot of soccer – over 30 games worth! – there are lots of other things to do as well.  We had a slip-n’-slide, a dunk tank, a bouncy castle maze, lots of food, and all kinds of team spirit.  It was really nice to get out into the sunshine, too!

Image

Image

ImageImage

Image

ImageImageImage

*Although Spring is not recognized here since the weather is the same throughout the year, my American brain still works in seasons 🙂