With each passing year, we recognize the value and need for cultural and social exchange. The more we travel and meet other people, the more we understand how connected and related we all are. We are enriched by our experiences and so are the people we meet on the way – if not for anything else, simply because we have met them.
2014 won’t be different in that aspect. On the contrary, it will be even MORE like that. Never has there been a time when cultural and lingual exchange has happened at such a vast and global scale as in our day and age. As the world grows and connects in more and new ways, so do we. And since ‘tis the time of year to make resolutions, we thought about a number of resolutions that could be relevant to every LanguageCorps teacher out there.
Learn as you teach
Genuine teaching cannot occur unless one is also in the position of a student. Teaching is, after all, the exact opposite of an assembly line – it has numerous unforeseen twists and turns, it needs to be tailored according to students’ needs, strengths and weaknesses.
In other words, it is a living, breathing process. And therefore, any teacher is a student at the same time, constantly learning, evolving and adapting. So this year, let’s all be even better students to our teachers and better teachers to our students.
Stay active and engaged
While teaching remains our top priority, meeting a new culture and its language means meeting new ways of perceiving, understanding and interacting with the world. Hence, it also influences our teaching. LanguageCorps teachers are certainly aware of this, no need to point it out. But what we might neglect at times is the need to reach out, to stay active and engaged.
Immersing ourselves in every culture that we meet, developing an awareness of local initiatives, communities, causes, problems and joys is bound to change us. It will change us in ways unimagined and we will emerge as deeper and richer human beings. Therefore, let us stay active wherever we go and approach each culture as a treasure chest that opens new doors into the world for us.
Learn new skills
A practical aspect of the above resolution is to engage with the culture of our host country in very basic ways. Learning skills, crafts, arts or dances that are specific to each country draws us close to the constituents of the culture and therefore of the language.
As languages and cultures evolve together, they are often interlinked in basic, everyday activities or rites. Expressions and meanings are hidden in the things that people have been doing all along, the ways they interact or move about. Learning new skills makes such tangible meanings available to us in an almost physical way.
Read more books
As teachers we have quite a lot of reading to do. But the bookworms among us are probably eager to engage with the literary wealth that awaits us at our next destination. Few are the people nowadays that have such a great opportunity to engage with such literary diversity as the volunteers, the teachers or the wanderers. Of course, in this day and age, a lot of things are one click a way – but directly experiencing a new culture and language is not.
LanguageCorps teachers have a unique opportunity here. This year, how about we read at least one book related to each place we visit? Of course this depends on how much we travel, where we’re going and what is available. Still, wherever you are and wherever you’re going, resolve to read more. You’ll have so much more to say and tell later on, you’ll never regret it.
The above list is by no means exhaustive. What all the resolutions have in common , though, is to help us experience more and enrich us and the people we come in contact with. This year, let’s resolve to live even more fully and to expand far beyond everything we currently know.