I got word today that I’ve been accepted by an English teaching/exchange program in the Republic of Georgia (not to be confused with the state of Georgia — this one is between Turkey and Russia). It involves teaching and co-teaching English 25-30 hours a week while living with a host family and (one hopes) learning Georgian. It sounds fascinatingly different, and I have a weakness for the fascinatingly different. God willing, I’ll probably do it.
Those of you who know me may notice my inconsistency. I say that teaching is difficult. I say that it’s too hard to communicate. I say that I just want to find a nice little bookshop somewhere and spend my day shelving books. I say that I’m a somewhat absurd teacher. I say that youth work is overwhelming to me, and I have a temperamental aversion to it. Nonetheless, I volunteer at youth camps most summers, have taught for nearly two and a half years, and am now considering teaching in a country I know little enough about, who speak a language I do not yet know. What gives? you may well ask.
I ask it too: I ask — Molly, why are your actions so often wildly inconsistent with your deliberations? Why did you end up teaching in Alaska just after deciding not to apply for any schools that were likely to hire you, and try for some retail establishment instead? Why, after all of that, did you go on to teach middle school art?
To which part of my answer is practical: I have an education degree, and have not yet learned what to do with it other than teach. I haven’t even yet learned something else to hope to do with it. Part is circumstantial: schools have been willing to hire me (or, in this case, to plug me into a foreign language program and find people to put me up for the semester), and I’d rather not turn down perfectly reasonable job offers. I’d rather not turn down any reasonable and interesting offers without good cause. Part is mysterious: it is said that God directs our lives — to what degree, I haven’t been able to ascertain. I’ve learned from some mission trips I’ve been on what it’s like to suppose that I oughtn’t do something, do it anyway, and be aggravated about it for quite a long time; I’ve learned what it’s like to get a no, and then not to go, but to sit around and rationalize what exactly I think about it, and why I’m not doing it, and blah, blah, blah; I’ve also met some yes’s, which resulted in all kinds of chaos, dissonance, failure to live up to expectations, and so on — but good things as well — friends, joy, light, learning, and whatnot.
So, yes, I’m inconsistent. I like to figure things out; I don’t especially like to be in over my head for most of my working hours. I don’t like not understanding people or being socially awkward, either. All the same, those particular classifications, likes, and dislikes are not essentially important — and I suspect I’m not going to be permitted to get out of them anyway. I’ve heard it said that a day without some irritation, awkwardness, or realization of one’s own insufficiency is a day nearly wasted.