Doing it for the Children

Sometime next week, we will find out what our permanent Peace Corps sites will be (meaning, where in Kosovo we’ll each be moving). Right now, I see my fellow trainees almost every day. But after our swearing in ceremony on August 19, we’ll be scattered all over Kosovo.

There has been a lot of talk amongst ourselves regarding our permanent sites, and some people definitely have strong preferences in where they are placed and what age groups they’ll be teaching (not that our preferences matter). As for me, I don’t know what to expect or hope for.

I’m a city kid through-and-through, so part of me would prefer to be placed in a larger village or city. But bigger cities mean a higher enrollment and more students in each classroom. Since I am an inexperienced teacher, maybe a smaller village with a smaller school/enrollment would be better for me.

At my last job back in Chicago, I worked with teen substance users. This is probably why Peace Corps initially told me I would be placed in a secondary school (subject to change, of course). I’m not sure how I feel about teaching in a high school versus an elementary school. I’ve heard from more experienced teachers in our group that younger kids tend to be more obedient. But, I can see drawbacks with that age group, too.

I like babies, and I’m used to being around teenagers, but those ages in between (like, 3-13) turn me into an awkward adult. “How old are you?” “What grade are you in?” and then, yeah … I got nuthin. (“OMG, do you think Jon Snow is really a Targaryen? BECAUSE I SURE DO!”) If I can’t cuddle you or speak to you like an adult, then I don’t know what to do with you.

There were four of us who worked on our last Peace Corps trainee project. The school children we met were particularly drawn to one of my colleagues. I tried to approach several of the quieter children, the ones who weren’t swarming with the rest. They looked at me with terror in their eyes. I tried to boost my self confidence by telling myself they probably felt intimidated speaking English to an American. (Ditto. I feel stupid when I try to speak Albanian to a native speaker.)  But, who knows. Maybe I’m actually terrifying.

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