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23 Days

As of this publishing, it is 23 days until I go to India, 23 days until I hop on that plane and fly 20 hours to see things I never thought I would, 23 days until I encounter what it feels like most of this last year has been leading up to.

Today was the last day of classes for the two courses that I'm teaching, and I found myself sitting back wondering that I am on this side of the semester already. When I stepped into that classroom in August, I had no idea what to expect as nothing can sufficiently prepare you for your first time teaching. I knew that I would make mistakes: I would probably accidentally lie to students; I would probably have poor math at some point; I would probably unintentionally alienate a student or two. And I'm pretty sure that all three of these things happened at some point in the semester.

And yet, I learned. I learned that it's okay to make mistakes. It's okay because we - my students, me, you as my readers, my parents, etc - are all human. We will all make mistakes. We will all screw up. The best part about it, though, is that this is how we learn. I couldn't possibly have learned how to teach if I'd been afraid to make mistakes.

I think this is the main problem behind our powerful apathy toward the world's problems. We are - all of us - complicit in some way in what is going on. We all buy clothes that were probably produced by child labor. We all participate in a consumerist society that also produces nothing (at least, Americans do). We all have walked passed that homeless person on the street without listening. All of us are aware of these problems to some extent, but we also are paralyzed by the idea that one person isn't going to make a difference. We're afraid that somehow, by stepping out of our comfort zone, that we'll make a mistake, we'll say the wrong thing, we won't be adequate.

That's the beauty of grace, though: we aren't enough! We never will be, but God has the grace to forgive our mistakes, to forgive those errors in judgment, those missteps along the way. Can't we have enough grace to forgive ourselves?

Mother Theresa, a famous humanitarian and member of the church who worked in Kolkata (which is one of our destination cities on this trip), once said: "We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."

As people, finding our way of contributing back, not just to the earth, but to humanity, to the betterment of this world for future generation.

As cheesy and cliche as it may be, if enough drops work together, we get a flood.

Let's create that flood. Find a way to give back, find a way to contribute, and learn to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we will probably make along the way.

During today's last class period, I decided to leave the students with a "last lecture" of sorts. I read aloud one of my favorite poem's - Tennyson's "Ulysses" - which is one of the poems that continues to inspire me. The last stanza of the poem is probably one of my favorites in all of English literature, and it seems fitting to leave here:

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

We should never settle, let our mistakes get us down, or be lost in our own inadequacies. Though we are "made weak by time and fate," we are "strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

Thank you for reading. I cannot wait to report back in a month and a half with pictures, stories, and motivation to help.

Photo by: Photographer Parker Young.

1 comment:

  1. Speaking as a teacher, I can definitely say that I've done all three of those things before. In fact, I probably did 2 of those to kids today. 1)I told them the wrong answer to a bio question. I did correct them though when I realized that I read the question wrong. 2)I helped a kid with physics. I screwed up my math the first time but corrected it. :)


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