|My Fifth Graders!|
I am the class teacher of fifth grade at Chumey M.S.S in Bhutan, which means I am responsible for anything that regards class five students. Every morning, six days a week, I start my day teaching them English for about an hour and every morning I feel like the luckiest teacher because to my eyes they are like sparkling jewels. In fact, I often refer to them as my little babies and sometimes I feel like a mother hen when they flock around me and my arms spread out to huddle them in. Indeed, I have fallen deeply in love with them and it seems as though they are quiet fond of me. I knew that I was blessed to get such a magnificent group of students, but I had no idea how lucky I was to have them until I got a terrible fever.
So one morning, I started feeling sick as I entered the class. The students instantly picked up on it, as I wasn’t my cheery self. Additionally, I never teach while sitting down at my desk because it’s not my teaching style, but on this day I was feeling so weak and feverish that I sat down holding my head. My students looked worried and so I confessed that I was feeling sick. “Miss, you must rest,” they all insisted but somehow I managed to get through the day. However, the next day, my fever increased and I felt too sick to go to school. It was one of the first days that I had ever missed first period.
I was laying in my bed feeling like I was going to die; yet wondering if my students got my lesson plans. Just as I was thinking about them, I heard a bunch of little kid voices. As the voices started to get closer, I thought that I recognized the voices as my students. However, I thought that there was no way it could be them since they were all supposed to be in school. As I continued to strain my ears, the voices approached my window and to my surprise I saw a little hand throw back the curtain and the top of a head peek in. Then all at once, my curtains started dancing as many hands started to come through the window as well as the top of several jumping heads. Instantly, I sat up in bed and smiled as I heard, “Miss, Miss, are you in there” accompanied by dozens of little knocks on my door. It was my fifth graders!
I hurriedly wrapped a scarf around my nose and mouth to try to prevent spreading the flu to them before I ran to the door. I opened the door in my pajamas and I had wild looking bed hair. They looked just as shock to see me not looking so pretty sporting a “scarf-mask” as I was stunned to see all twenty-five of them huddled at my doorstep. They gave me no choice but to step back while they all pushed their way inside to present me with a big paper bag of goodies: chips, juice, apples, etc. I was touched that they came to see me when I was sick and at the same time I was shocked. I said, “Thank you, thank you, but what are you kids doing here? Why aren’t you in class? It’s second period! Does your second period teacher know you’re here?”
|All huddled in my living room|
All at once they started to sit down on my bare wooden floor as they explained, “Miss, when you didn’t come to first period, we were worried. Then we heard that you were sicker. So our science teacher let us come after we begged him because we really wanted to come visit you and bring you food so you can get better. We collected money from each other and went to the store to get you some stuff.” I was overcome with gratitude and I felt terrible as their little voices shouted from one corner to the next, “Miss, it’s so lonely and sad without you...ya it’s boring without you… please get better so you can come back tomorrow.”
In my living room, I sat on a bench staring at all their little faces that were staring back at me. Then I couldn’t help but laugh thinking that this could never happen in America. For instance, my American students would have to go through a lengthy process to get permission to use the school bus to come see me, they would need chaperons, parent signatures and on top of that I would have to be literally dying in order for them to be able to visit me. Missing one day of school due to a fever would not permit a class visit to my home.
Then my mind quickly returned to the room and I said, “Wow, thank you so much, but you kids should be getting back to school because my fever is contagious and I don’t want to get you guys sick. That’s why I didn’t come to school today. If you stay here with me, you might get my germs.”
But like an intimidating army they swore, “No Miss, we don’t care if we get sick. We want to keep you company, so you don’t get lonely.” I frowned a little knowing that they weren’t budging. Then another student chirped in, “Miss, you have no mother and father here in Bhutan, so we have to take care of you. We love you Miss!” Immediately, my eyes felt teary and my heart became all gooey and soft. They were right, I didn’t have any immediate family in Bhutan and it felt nice to know that they were treating my like a family member. So I decided to welcome their presence and appreciate the fact that I had a group of little people who cared for me dearly.
They continued talking all at once and suddenly I had twenty-five voices shouting at me, “Miss we want to take care of you…Can I sweep for you? I want to cook the noodles for you? I want to make you tea? Miss, do you have some dishes in the sink, I want to wash them…Miss, we can sing you a song to make you feel better…Miss let us do work in your house…we will make it look beautiful…”
My burning head was spinning from being bombarded by so many requests and I gave in saying, “Ok ok ok, but when the bell rings for third period, you all have to go back to school.” With that being said, they swarmed around my house like a beehive that had been broken spilling out a frenzy of bees. Zoom Zoom they went buzzing around from one room to the next.
We were not in the classroom, there were too many rooms, I was sick, thus, I had no control over what was going on in my house. All I could do was stand back and chuckle at the madness that had taken place: I had kids in the kitchen washing the dishes, wiping the countertop, peeking in the fridge, begging me to let them cook. In the bathroom, some boys were storing water for me and putting buckets of water into my washer machine so I wouldn’t have to do it later. There were kids in the hallway lodging stones in the cracks of my floors and kids in Dawa’s room lining up her shoes to perfection. In my sitting room, kids were sweeping and shaking out the rug.
Then I realized that there were a dozen of kids tidying anything they could get their hands on in my little bedroom. I could barely squeeze through the crowd to get to my bed so I could sit down and observe this crazy scene. As soon as I sat down, I noticed that my students had just discovered my clean laundry in a corner that I hadn’t put away yet. My eyes popped out watching my laundry fly everywhere as each kid fought to grab a piece to fold. Then as the clothes were being tossed to each other to be folded this way and that way, one of my underwear’s flew up to the ceiling and landed in the middle of the floor. One of the kids shouted, “Umm what’s that?” Suddenly, the room got quiet with a few giggles and instantly a circle was made around my underwear.
Once I processed what just happened, I screamed, “Ahhhhhhhh that’s my underwear!” I dove across the floor through legs and feet to bundle up my underwear and stuff it in a drawer.
All the kids screamed in laughter and then they said, “Look at our Miss, she’s turning red. Hahahaha”
“Oh my! Kids, please don’t fold your teacher’s underwear. Ahh this is so embarrassing!” I yelled while searching the room for the rest of my clean underwear. Although I was laughing, I was serious and my students thought this was hysterical. Thankfully, the boys were just as embarrassed as I was and they all ran out of the room while the girls helped me stuffed the remaining of my underwear in my drawers.
Fortunately, just then the third period bell saved me and they all scrambled outside to put on their shoes. I walked them to the bridge, thanking them and waving goodbye to them as they headed across the way back to school. They all screamed from afar, “Miss we love you. Get better so you can come back to school…”
When I went back inside and shut the door behind me, I leaned against the door with my homemade scarf-mask still in tack and I finally had a quiet moment to absorb what I had just experienced: twenty-five of my students leaving school to bring me food and to clean my house all because I was sick for one day and I had no mom and dad in Bhutan to take care of me.
Next, I walked around my house admiring how impeccably clean they had made it, especially my room. I also laughed to myself as I refolded my underwear that had been stuffed in every drawer. Then later, I realized that there were a few get well letters in the brown bag that they had brought me and my eyes again became watery as I read them out loud, “I wish to God…to become tomorrow you are well with no sickness yet you are sick. We are so sad. Our class is lonely with no happiness.”
I realized how blessed I was and that sometimes teachers are more than a teacher, they are like a family member who may need some TLC when they get sick. Upon this realization, the strangest thing happened: My fever dissipated and I felt better! So thank you to class five at Chumey M.S.S. and I love you all.
|Our colorful classroom|
|I love them|
|They are the best|
|A read aloud|
|They are putting on their shoes to head back to school|
|Across the bridge to school|
|See you tomorrow|
|All the goodies they brought me|
|The get well letters|