Wednesday, July 05, 2006

So it was the 4th of July and I really didn't feel like teaching, I needed an easy lesson plan, and quick. Blair and I came up with it together, "Let's have them say what they would do if they ruled their own country."

"Yeah, they can make up their own flag, Constitution, sounds great." It was, I mean, I had to do very little and it was a change of pace for them, all would be great. And then I realized what might be a hunderance on this phenominal lesson, my Tamil class. Would this lesson lead to cries of violence. After all, other Tamils are, in fact, trying to do exactly that, make their own nation with their own laws.

I walked into the class. I am about to say something that no teacher should never admit, but always thinks. My Tamil class is my favorite class. They speak English really well, but have a personality and make me laugh. I have to tell them to keep quiet, but they aren't being disrespectful, they are just having fun with what I am teaching them. For instance, today I said, "Guys, quiet down" and they just repeated the word "guys." "Do you know what that means?" I asked. And they all said yes. So I couldnt figure out the problem. "Should I call you gentlemen? You certainly aren't." Then I went through a list of options. Sri Lankans, men, boys, kids, idiots, and lastly, "I know, I'll call you 'ladies.'" They laughed. "Okay get to work ladies!"
"Yes Madam!" yelled one kid. I had a good laugh.

Anyway, to avoid hearing cries of blowing up buses I made a speech about Gandhi, Thoreau, and King, with hopes that I would send them a message. In reality, it was unnecessary. They wrote eloquent stories about their all equal, democratic, peaceful nations. I was a pleased taecher. They had fun, I did little work, and they weren't so bored.

When I got back I changed my clothes in my room and came downstairs to get a drink, I was facing the doorway when a girl almost ran into me, "Give me a knife please!" It was Resuka, and before I go on I must tell you how I first met her: Melissa, Blair, and myself were all going to the computer room. Right outside of the room there is a rather large hallway, where several young girls who are daughters of the fishing folk from the nearby fishing village (many with paretns who were killed in the tsunami) are tutored by Bro. Ignatius. The girls range in age from 11 to 16. They study hard for many long hours everyday. They hang on to everything Bro. Ignatius says. He teaches them every subject and I have no doubt that St. John Baptiste De La Salle himself would be proud of him. So anyway, while going to the computer room, at about 9 pm we hear someone yell "Hey!" in a rather agressive tone. Now, if you have ever known a Sri Lankan, you would know that the agresson level in their voice and their volume never exceeds about 1 decible, so this yell caught our attention. It happened to come from a girl, which seemed even more strange. "Today is my birthday," she said as she cut three pieces of her cake and handed it to us. She was sixteen. "My name is Resuka."
"What a pretty name" I said, "I wont possibly forget it." About 10 minutes later I found myself asking Melissa and Blair, "What the hell was her name?"

Anyway, she wanted a knife. "What!?" I said.
"A knife please!"
"Oh... Okay. You're not gunna kill anyone with it are you?" I asked?
"I said, you're not going to kill anyone are you?" I repeated as I got the knife.
"I can't hear you?" I felt like I was talking to my dad. I spoke a little louder.
"You- arent- going- to - kill -anyone are you? I mean... I would hate to give a knife to someone... if... they were going to..." I just trailed off becasue by now the joke was long since stabbed by the very knife I was delivering. I turned the corner and found Bro. Ignatius staring at me with that same look my parents give me. The one that reads "You're an idiot" on it. Oh well.

And then today I saw a teacher smack a student for the fisrt time in my life. It made me uncomfortable, not because he hit the student, but becasue he couldnt control his own anger or the student. It was a Singhilese teacher hitting a Tamil boy. Sort of ironic. It was then that I realized that some teacehrs could control their class peacefully, like myself, Bro Ignatius, Titus, Melissa, and Blair, while others can't get what they demand in any peaceful way, so they do the only thing they know how to do, they explode.

My students told me to watch the soccer game tonight.
"Is it the 5th?" I asked.
"It is!" they said. The 5th, the 5th, hmmm, it rang another bell in my head. Oh, that's right. July 5th, Black Tiger Day, the Tamil celebration of the first Tamil Tiger suicide bombing.


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